Rosemary Dinnage

The Rage of Dying

How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter


Chatto & Windus 320pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Sherwin B Nuland is an American writer/doctor who argues here – in fact protests too much, methinks – that finding out as much as we can about death beforehand will rob it of its terrors. I doubt it. Acknowledging death, yes, instead of denying it; mustering up any spiritual beliefs or experiences we can, yes; but does it help to read in advance about every squeeze of the throttled artery, every gasp of the choking throat, every failure of the drowning lungs? One seldom encounters a ‘good’ death or a dignified one, says Nuland; ‘decreasing the mess’ is the best that can be done. Thanks for the tip, Doc. How We Die is all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-death-but-had-better-not-ask. Personally I shall try to forget Chapter 1 (‘The Strangled Heart’) and Chapter 10 (‘The Malevolence of Cancer’) and a good deal of the section on Alzheimer’s disease.

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