With Complications, Better, and The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande has emerged in recent years as the “conscience” of our health care system—he’s a doctor and teacher with a deep well of humanity who seeks to clarify and demystify the medical and health care practices, protocols, and policies that so dominate and define our lives and, it turns out, our deaths. Being Mortal (Metropolitan, $26) explores an area of medicine overlooked in most medical schools, ignored by most policy makers, but one that is of growing importance as more Americans live longer lives. Gawande has a keen intellect and a writer’s touch (he writes frequently for The New Yorker) and his book is profound, courageous, and compelling. An important window into what the end of life can—and should—be.
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