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Publisher's Summary

For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. 

So here is an audiobook about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it hasn't, where our ideas about death have gone wrong. With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do.  

Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn't have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life - all the way to the very end. 

Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection. 

Wellcome Collection:

Wellcome Collection is a free museum and library that aims to challenge how we think and feel about health. Inspired by the medical objects and curiosities collected by Henry Wellcome, it connects science, medicine, life and art. Wellcome Collection exhibitions, events and books explore a diverse range of subjects, including consciousness, forensic medicine, emotions, sexology, identity and death.  

Wellcome Collection is part of Wellcome, a global charitable foundation that exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive, funding over 14,000 researchers and projects in more than 70 countries. 

©2019 Atul Gawande (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Being Mortal

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Totally Transformative

Gawande takes one of the most challenging taboos of our time and, using insight, the experiences of others who are dying or have died, and his experience as a son whose father died, asks us to think differently about dying. In the 21st century we think we have conquered so much with technology that we can conquer death and live forever. But Gawande’s insightful narrative gets us to think anew about living well and dying without going down kicking and screaming. The author exhorts us to focus on the person who is dying—which will one day be us—and see how we can make the inevitable as good an experience as possible, remembering that a person’s death, importantly, leaves the living behind with their memories and experiences. I found this book to be totally transformative. Being Mortal should be read by every health professional and anyone working with older people or those dying from a life limiting disease.

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Eye opening

This book had made me think about how I might live my final days, should I be lucky enough to be able to plan for this . Really thought provoking - the narration was excellent.

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highly recommend

I highly recommend this book, beautifully written and narrated, a valuable read or listen for everyone.

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thought provoking and intoxicating in essence

an amazing book, with an intoxicating storyline, emotional and captivating all at once, a must read for anyone in the health care industry for a fresh perspective on aging and informing the way we care for others in the clinical setting

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A must-read

A thoughtful and moving book on how we approach death, that is ultimately uplifting and empowering. I am so grateful this was recommended to me.

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From a non-medic who has recently lost someone...

THANK YOU for this book. This book was eye-opening, heart-wrenching and made me want to learn more about the state of geriatric and palliative care in my own country (New Zealand). It also made me realise the conversations that need to be had with some of my family members about what their wishes are. Death is such a taboo subject for something that is so human and happens to literally every single one of us... thank you for talking about the challenges that professionals face, too - I truly didn't realise the doctors also struggle with confronting the harsh reality of impending death.

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Being Mortal

What a fantastic book for everyone! As a Registered Nurse working in Aged Care I have already (only just) started implementing the pot plant for dementia patients. It’s just a fantastic insight into all aspects of medicine and a must read for all people working in the medical field.
My brother in law who is anaesthetist recommended the book to me after he read it.

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uninteresting book

I tried to persevere even though I found the content quite monotonous, at the 4th chapter I gave up

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Everyone should read this book

This is a very well written book. Everyone should read this to understand and be empathetic to their parents, older family or friends situation. Great book.

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  • Swathi Eashwer
  • 14-07-2020

A must-read for everyone. EVERYONE.

There are very few books that I'd categories as must reads for everyone. This book is certainly one of them.

We are all going to make end of life choices - maybe for ourselves but likely also for our loved ones. Gawande uses well narrated stories to help readers step into the shoes of those making end of life decisions - both good and bad decisions are explained in a way that highlights what's truely important and how easy it is to be guided by fear and sqander the precious opportunity for a good end to a life well lived.

This book addresses this very difficult topic with sensitivity, clarity and clear headed objectivity. Death is inevitable. In today's world terminal illness is increasingly a common precursor to it. We all need to learn how to handle this extremely important period of our lives better. This book will start the right conversations.

It is not an easy listen though - I found myself in tears at multiple parts. But it's certainly a worthwhile read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 31-10-2019

Fantastic book

Everyone has their thoughts on dying, and as it is something we will all face. This is a book we should all read!

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  • Andrew
  • 02-10-2019

Comfort in care...

A must read for clinicians, carers and layman alike. A view of quality of life and dignity of end of life... Our mortality, approach to care and the respect that palliative care deserves.

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  • Hamza Van Der Ross
  • 24-07-2019

Thought provoking about death, aging and medicine

An honest and thought provoking exploration of aging, dying and what means most to us in the end. Palliative care is not just a growing medical need but an inevitable aspect of our modern lives.

I am a doctor myself and I believe that this is a must read for all medical practitioners. The author very earnestly tries to examine truths that most doctors are too uncomfortable to acknowledge: the limits of modern medicine, the certainty of death and difficult conversations that we need to be having with our patients and loved ones.

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  • Mindaugas
  • 28-02-2019

Simple, yet brilliant

The author tries to pass the idea that instead of trying to exceed ones life employing any medical service necessary, we shall focus on the quality of the time left and help people to get the best of their days/weeks/months remaining.
However, the main take for me from this book are these simple truths:
- Perspective can change everything (your goals, ambition, hapiness is totally different if you have a month to live vs 20 years to go);
- listen to what my parents/loved oned want when it comes to the end of life journey (be it a mortal disease or an old age);
- I am not immortal, I should not forget that :)
- and finally - there’s a business opportunity in my country to expand assisted living concept + help the old people.

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  • Sugamama
  • 03-08-2021

more relevant to the American health care system

I really enjoyed the book and certainly understand why it has been recommended to me more than once by colleagues. My only potentially negative comment would be that lots of it applies more to the American health care system (in the UK the hospice care is very good and you certainly don't have to sign a form to say you are not having treatment, also people with terminal disease would not be placed on ventilators as some examples). overall though I liked the concept of reframing how we think about end of life care and priorities.

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  • F. Walshaw
  • 19-01-2022

How to die??

Essential reading for all persons growing into old age and contemplating their demise! Not sad or sorrowful but very helpful!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Abuzar Aziz
  • 11-05-2021

Astonishing

Wonderfully written. It reaffirms the importance for yourself, your loved ones and for health care professionals to talk about death.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-03-2021

thought provoking

interesting well balanced book. sad in places and thought provoking to the very end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Loretta Bradley
  • 29-01-2021

a must read

I am a health care professional. interesting evidence and patient stories to illustrate his points. a book which has had a significanr effect on me. I am looking at life and out approach to aging and cancer with fresh eyes. fabulous book

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-2020

Really insightful

Loved it start to finish. A really insightful book about our approach to end of life and ageing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-08-2020

I got a new perspective of medicine.

I read it over a couple of weeks. It's a highly inspiring and, at times, emotional book. The narrator is a great story teller.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nicholas Lalor
  • 10-06-2020

awesome book

The book is so insightful and is really a useful guide to the most difficult of topics. I can't recommend it enough. It is one those books that just flows so well for audible. It is well read and so on.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 24-04-2022

A remarkable book!!

As a medical doctor, the author has seen many people near the end of their lives.
Quality of life is really important. Without that there is no point in prolonging it .
Too many people are not really living. They are just surviving.
I really enjoyed this book, even though the stories sometimes brought a tear to my eye.

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