HOW WE DIE

REFLECTIONS ON LIFE'S FINAL CHAPTER

A sobering look at the clinical reality of death by a physician who wants it known that ``we rarely go gentle into that good night.'' Nuland (Yale Medical School; Doctors, 1988) takes the position that if we know the truth about the physical process of dying, we can rid ourselves of both our fears and our false expectations. By becoming familiar with the common patterns of illness, he says, we'll be better prepared to make appropriate decisions about continuing treatment or calling it quits. Nuland selects several common causes of death—heart attack, old age, Alzheimer's, violence, AIDS, and cancer—and, with unrelenting honesty and unsettling detail, shows precisely what happens to the body involved. His account of the decline and death of his grandmother—with whom he shared a bedroom until he was in his late teens and she in her late 90s—is unforgettable, as is his story of his well-intentioned mismanagement of the care of his older brother when he was dying of cancer. The emotional impact of these stories is quite different from that produced by the author's coldly clinical accounts (``a specific sequence of events takes place in people who bleed to death. At first, they will usually hyperventilate...''); but by demonstrating that dying is usually a messy business, Nuland succeeds in demythologizing death. His message is that the dignity we seek in dying must be found not in our final weeks, days, or moments—but in how we've lived our lives. Strong stuff: not for those who prefer to cling to comforting illusions about life's end.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-41461-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1993

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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