Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Award for 2014, this stupendous work by Atul Gawande is magnificently moving, monumentally relevant and memorably seminal considering the times we are in. While medicine has progressed beyond radical imagination extending the human life span, it has continued to grapple with a quintessential dilemma – Is prolonging a painful life preferable to a peaceful and painless end?

Drawing on a wealth of personal and professional experience, Dr.Gawande, without beating around the bush, or cutting corners dwells with clinical depth on the cold, hard and uncompromising facts facing a terminally ill patient as well as the near and dear ones suffering along with the former. Is there an appropriate moment to “let go?”; Should palliative care take precedence over excruciatingly painful and futile procedures?; Are hospices better alternatives to hospitals?. These questions are considered with precision and passion.

In a world filled with unbridled hope and optimism, there is also cause for deep pain and desperation. Atul Gawande lays down a beautiful path for overcoming despair – a path that exhorts the embracing of truth and bracing for the undesirable outcome. A courage to accept that there is indeed a trade-off between a peaceful and painless end and a prolonged extension of agony.

This book will surely stand the test of tempestuous and turbulent times. The reader will never look at an elderly grandfather or an ailing mother in the same light as before.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

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