Wendy Moore

Final Words

Being Mortal: Ageing, Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End


Profile Books & The Wellcome Collection 282pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

As a surgeon at a leading American hospital and professor of surgery at Harvard, Atul Gawande enjoys a high-status, well-paid and privileged position in society. And yet, for his fourth book, he has chosen one of the lowest-status and most neglected subjects: dying. Thank goodness that he has.

Gawande is not, by a long chalk, the first person to tackle how we as a society deal with the issue of ageing and dying. Poets, philosophers and priests have tried to make sense of the process of dying since humans could first talk; social reformers, health activists and politicians have been championing the idea of a ‘good death’ for generations. But Gawande is one of the first surgeons to have thought deeply on this topic and to propose some challenging and intelligent ways forward – and this in itself is significant. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,