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Publisher's Summary

Die Wise does not offer seven steps for coping with death. It does not suggest ways to make dying easier. It pours no honey to make the medicine go down. Instead, with lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen Jenkinson places death at the center of the discussion and asks us to behold it in all its painful beauty. Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Die Wise is for those who will fail to live forever.

Dying well, Jenkinson writes, is a right and responsibility of everyone. It is not a lifestyle option. It is a moral, political, and spiritual obligation all people owe their ancestors and their heirs. Die Wise dreams such a dream and plots such an uprising. How we die, how we care for dying people, and how we carry our dead: This work makes our capacity for a village-mindedness - or breaks it.

©2016 Stephen Jenkinson (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Stephen Jenkinson's elegant and sorrow-freighted book brings prophetic insight rather than pastoral affirmations. A true story-man, Jenkinson paints image after image on the cave wall of his parchment. Die Wise is a formidable body of work, road-tested in ways most of us hope never to know about." (Dr. Martin Shaw, author of Snowy Tower: Parzival and the Wet, Black Branch of Language)

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  • Kate
  • Kenwood, CA, United States
  • 12-22-16

Wonderful book!

I feel that this book should be listened to rather than read. It is read by the author who is a gifted storyteller.

I purchased the book out of curiosity and not expecting much from it because I love to listen to fiction and most of my non-fiction reading is more along the lines of essay.

As soon as I started listening to this book, I was entranced and mesmerized. I could not stop listening. I am now almost finished and as soon as I am I will begin again as I want to glean every bit of knowledge, wisdom and wonder from it as I can.

It may seem that this might be a scary or disturbing book as it is concerned with what is considered a very dark and dismal aspect of life which we all take great pains to avoid until we have no other choice. However, I found, curiously, that it calmed me down immensely and I love listening to it. I cannot explain why except to say that it brought me home to myself.

I am no great writer or communicator which is why I rarely write reviews but in this case I really want to encourage everyone to listen to it as it will possibly help to bring us all home.

... do listen to this long story that slowly unwinds the truths of our species. I think you won't regret it.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Great listen

Any additional comments?

Its a great book to listen. I didn't rush and even repeated some chapters in order to properly soak in what the author was saying. I challenge you to exercise patience and listen to the whole book without rushing. :)

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • WB
  • GA
  • 06-08-18

Living philosophy. A philosophy for living.

Stephen Jenkinson is a true philosopher: not an academic or professional, but a living example of philosopher as vocation. He speaks from experience. There is no final word, only an invitation to join him. He takes fundamental assumptions about living and dying, and turn them completely upside down. What he offers can be unsettling, and revolutionary. Listening to Stephen read his work has deeply changed me. He really delves into some dark corners of the world we have created around ourselves, and this can be challenging. I don't find it important to agree with every observation or proposition; the benefits of Stephen's ruminations come from the wonder and curiosity which arise in the open space cleared by the shock he induces. The work of disagreeing and coming to my own conclusions is as much a part of the value offered as any shared knowledge. Stephen asks us to work for and earn what is true. He asks of me to become a deeper observer and questioner.

If you or someone you know is dying: read this. It may not be easy, but neither is dying. I believe that this book can make dying better; Stephen certainly doesn't claim to make it any easier. Likewise, if you or someone you know is going to die... my recommendation is the same... although you might have a little more leeway to ease yourself into it. The audio book is over 18 hours long! A very long and circuitous journey with some surprising stops along the way. It can be a bit uneven too... some parts speak to me more than others. But I imagine that at different times my relationship to the material will change. The content is rich. I have had to digest it slowly. It's so good, and so worth it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A deep and necessary experience.

This book is quiet and momentous, challenging and nurturing. It is for everyone who seeks to see our culture more clearly, and who seeks another way of being within that culture.
The book deserves to be listened to meditatively, in the same manner in which it was written. There are no quick or easy lessons within, but if patience is applied, there are rich benefits of perspective and wisdom and solemnity. Don't fail to listen thoroughly, all the way to the end.
I am thankful to have listened to "Die Wise" on audio book. While I am certain that reading it on paper would have been worthwhile, Stephen Jenkinson's reading of his own words feels like a privilege.
This truly is a deep, necessary, and uncommon gift.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Superb narration by the author himself

We saw the Canadian documentary about the author soon after it came out. Titled "Griefwalker" it paved the way for our willingness to listen patiently, expectantly throughout this long audiobook. The storytelling is Jenkinson at his best -- and one also thereby learns how he became who he is. Only one other book narrated by its author has impressed us so much. Truly, like sitting around a campfire or a fireplace, enjoying the calm, slow, imagistic way of deftly unravelling our ingrained western antipathy toward death and welcoming another view -- one that our ancestors (perhaps long, long ago) would have known as natural as the the passing of the seasons. We loved this book! And we have listened to the last 4 or 5 hours multiple times, especially the last two -- where all the ideas lurking within the previous stories and passages come clear. Bravo!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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powerful, potent, and timely wisdom.

challenging, wise, potent, and timely. this message and the teachings within will, if you let them, Rock you to the core. I'm glad to have found this and to have had my paradigm utterly shifted as a result.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An opportunity of a lifetime

Steven Jenkinson offers a dreamscape of possibility about how to approach our mortality by living a life of breathtaking authenticity. I am staggered by the potential and humbled in the face of accepting whatever this life offers as the miracle it can be and actually is. So grateful I went on this search to find meaning in the deaths I have witnessed only to find my own staring me back in the face.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fairly good

This book has a great narrative of the failure of modern American culture to deal well with our dying. However, the solutions he describes tends to get lost for me in the continual discussion of how nearly everything we do and have done has been a mistake when it comes to the dying. the solutions are supposed to have started at around chapter 100 or so...!!! this left about 4 hours for the author and narrator to get to the point but I felt that when his ideas were mentioned, they were talked about briefly and without enough detail for me to really understand and envision how to put them into practice and even to really recall them after the book ended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Hard but incredibly valuable read.

This man’s words are soothing and mesmerizing. If you are interested in how you or someone you care about can die well, with less fear and more purpose, this is the book for you. At times it can be really hard to listen to (for example: the very sad but real fact of the death of children) but every word is spoken with compassion and honesty. We aren’t doing ourselves any favors by pretending these inevitabilities won’t come to pass. Highly recommend this book.

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Profound

One of the most meaningful books I've read. accentuates the work of living by fully accepting the work of death. Honest and authentic.

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  • JulieGibbons
  • 08-26-18

Essential wisdom for being human

Jenkinson is a master story-teller. Draw close to the hearth and allow his gut-wrenching, heart-breaking wisdom to bring you home to the truth of love, grief, death and living in these times. Don’t wait until a terminal diagnosis arrives to absorb these teachings. I am immeasurably impacted, forever altered, eternally grateful for this gift.

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  • Eala
  • 01-05-18

Subtle and superb

Beneath the apparent initial grumpiness, the occasional obtuseness, and the poetry, there is a great depth of wisdom and emotional intelligence here. Treasures await, for one willing to dig patiently.

Jenkinson is a superb storyteller, and thus he carried me with him, through the slow or heavy parts, to the parts that shone astonishingly, and moved me to tears - sobs of recognition, exclamations of wonder, and entirely new ways of thinking about death, and living, and loving, and remembering, and grieving...

There is no adequate way to write a short review for this extraordinary book. You can find long reviews that go into detail and do it some justice if you search the Internet a little.

I have filled my copy with bookmarks and notes, have revisited the best bits often, and will listen again many times in the years to come. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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  • Owain Greville
  • 11-04-17

amazing. best book of 2017 so far..

loved it .hit the spot for me.get this awesome book. it's well worth reading ..

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  • J. Bonnet
  • 10-05-17

A timeless treasure chest of wisdom

Stephens' writing (and narration) is touching and thought provoking. I've listened to it about 9 times through now, and Jenkinson's wisdom is such that each listen I remain rapt. There aren't many people who talk about suffering, and the difficulties of life, as he can.

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  • Robert Stockton
  • 03-19-18

A MUST read.

Words can not come close to the wisdom in this book. This is required reading!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-03-17

Deep Wisdom

Beautifully narrated by the author, giving the message in this book the clarity it deserves. A must read for everyone who is or who will die and anyone who attends the dying.
This is a thought provoking and challenging book. I will listen and read it again.

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  • Matt
  • 03-21-17

Sanity for the soul

This book was as an insightful guide for me while supporting my dying mother.

More than an honest and confronting guide for dealing with death, it also was surprisingly a guide to a better way of living.

A poetic insight into our culture and beliefs around dying and living, Stephen's words haunted me with the ring of truth.

Guiding the reader through true gritty and solemn stories from his own experiences with death having worked in palliative care for 35 years, Stephen delivers wisdom that spares the reader the positive spin and self help feel good jargon we have come to expect.

Along the way he also addresses and distinguishes some historical myths our culture has around living and dying, that we have unwittingly inherited.

Die Wise is a sobering and somber read that I very much enjoyed and left me wondering again child like about life and death.