Good Death: The New American Search to Reshape the End of Life

Marilyn Webb, Author, Timothy Quill, Foreword by, Joanne Lynn, Foreword by Bantam Books $24.95 (479p) ISBN 978-0-553-09555-5
Beginning with accounts of the deaths of her sister and father, and moving through the recent unanimous Supreme Court judgment against states allowing physician-assisted suicide, Webb, a former editor at Psychology Today and McCall's, deftly analyzes the major themes in the contemporary debate about how, where and when we can, and should, die. For Webb, the evolution of medical technology that can prolong life beyond a patient's desire for it has touched off a search for a ""New American Sacred"" that physically, mentally and spiritually prepares one (and one's family and community) for death. She debunks tabloid misconceptions about notorious ""right-to-die"" cases like Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Beth Cruzan, and presents the work of dominant thinkers in the arena of death studies, like Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and protagonists in the physician-assisted suicide movement, like Jack Kevorkian. Further insight may be found in her descriptions of various terminal journeys, where we learn of the value of family preparation and participation in the last acts of the dying, and of the healing and even joy that ritual can provide for survivors. Even when the instances portrayed depict the worst end-of-life care, with patients wracked by pain in over-medicalized surroundings, Webb never becomes maudlin. ""I have come to deliver a simple message,"" said an oncologist at a conference attended by the author, ""You don't have to be a Tibetan Buddhist to die well."" This book goes far to explain why. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Open Ebook - 350 pages - 978-0-307-80177-7
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-553-37987-7
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