Not too long ago, there was no coming back from death. But now, with revolutionary medical advances, death has become just another serious complication. As a young medical student, Dr. David Casarett was inspired by the story of a two-year-old girl named Michelle Funk. Michelle fell into a creek and was underwater for over an hour. When she was found she wasn't breathing, and her pupils were fixed and dilated. That drowning should have been fatal. But after three hours of persistent work, a team of doctors and nurses was able to bring her back. It was a miracle. If Michelle could come back after three hours of being dead, what about 12 hours? Or 24? What would it take to revive someone who had been frozen for 1,000 years? And what does blurring the line between "life" and "death" mean for society?
In Shocked, Casarett chronicles his exploration of the cutting edge of resuscitation and reveals just how far science has come. He begins in the 18th century, when early attempts at resuscitation involved public displays of barrel rolling, horseback riding (sort of), and blowing smoke up the patient's various orifices. He then takes us inside a sophisticated cryonics facility in the Arizona desert, a darkroom full of hibernating lemurs in North Carolina, and a laboratory that puts mice into a state of suspended animation. The result is a spectacular tour of the bizarre world of doctors, engineers, animal biologists, and cryogenics enthusiasts trying to bring the recently dead back to life. Fascinating, thought-provoking, and (believe it or not) funny, Shocked is perfect for those looking for a prequel - and a sequel - to Mary Roach's Stiff, or for anyone who likes to ponder the ultimate questions of life and death.
©2014 David Casarett M.D. (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC
"Shocked is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious. But more than that, it’s an important book that should force an urgent discussion of the hairline border between alive and dead, and the incredible ethical (and economic) questions we face as technology redraws that boundary." (David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene)
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
Who here hasn't had to take a CPR course? Aren't we in an age where we expect life to be extended? "Shocked" takes all of this and explores it one way, turns it on its head another.
This is part Mystery: hunting down early attempts at resuscitation with the Royal Humane Society, hibernation, how the wood frog manages to live (be dead?) in harsh northern winters, and miracles. It's also part Science Fiction: zombie dogs, suspended animation, cryonics, and decapitated heads in a warehouse.
Casarett pursues all avenues, delves into hands-on research with zeal and cheeky good humor. The most gruesome of experiments turns into a laugh out loud moment, tho' you may find yourself cringing, with your toes curling.
I have to admit that my attention did wander a bit when he got into in-depth explanations of the functioning of the heart, cells, mitochondria and such, even though he explains it so simply that even I could understand, but that's my failing and not his. For the most part, this is a truly interesting and entertaining book.
FAIR WARNING: While a lot of the advances in the science of resuscitation come from freak accidents people have, most of it comes from animal experimentation. If you're an animal lover, as I am, you might be appalled. But even I know that the meds I'm on have come at an animal's price. Still, if you're sensitive, this might be a book you want to skip.
But you'll be missing a lot. 'Cause this is a funny, enlightening, and engaging book, delivered with sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes deadpan tones.
By the way, you'll love the bit where he experiments on himself by being strapped chest down on a trotting horse... :)
This was a really good book. The reader spoke a bit too quickly for my taste but the subject matter was fascinating.
As a medical social worker for over 25 years I found this book informative and entertaining. I personally saw the sometimes devasting outcomes for patients and their families who opted for too much medical intervention with little understanding or appreciation for the likelihood of a less than positive outcome. As the author points out there have been remarkable advancements in medical care but all interventions are not always successful in every case. Personally, I loved the author's somewhat "sick" sense of humor but I suspect some listener's might be taken aback that anything dealing with death can have humor associated with it.
This book makes you realize that death may not be what it appears to be. People that are dead, without breath, pulse or body temperature, come back to life. You realize how much we have learned about the body and death and how much we don't know. Whether people are dead has been a question since medicine was little more than guesswork. Some of what you know or a great deal of what you know may be out of date. I was suprised at many of the things in this book and had some definite learning experiences.
the ability of the author to create a narrative out of what is quite a bit of technical medical information is magical. having him sneak that much information into your head while making you titter and smile and cry and cajole is truly the art of writing.
Bill Bryson's "A Complete History of Nearly Everything". See above box.
The account of the most current ingenue of resuscitation. She's currently married to a person she was on a trip with when her "death" occurred. you can google up some youtube videos of her and her spouse if you're curious enough.
I found the history fascinating and the science completely engaging, if not a little over my head. The narrator did a fair job of not sounding too much like a doctor despite the fact that the book was very obviously written by one. However, the text was not muddled down in technical terms and the story clipped along at an enjoyable pace. My interest has definitely been captured and it will be exciting to see how this field advances in the next few years.
it seems like the narrator was trying to get through this as quickly as possible. it was one long barrage of terse rapid speech with no emotion which made the book hard to follow. the subject material was interesting and well written. I don't regret buying this since I got it on sale and I learned a lot.
Author Casarett addresses the topic that hovers at the edge of human consciousness, mostly just a quiet presence, occasionally a terrifying intruder. Can we be summoned back from the abyss? Is that always a wise decision?
For those who like to think outside the box, Casarett explores the feasibility of preserving the body/brain through the as-yet imperfect process of cryogenics, said body/brain to be restored to functioning life. Someday. Maybe.
The awful truth is examined with a light touch and a laugh-out-loud humour that occasionally borders on smart-assery. As with all scary realities, it helps if we can summon a laugh or three.
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