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The Good Death

An Exploration of Dying in America
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Following the death of her father, journalist and hospice volunteer Ann Neumann sets out to examine what it means to die well in the United States. When Ann Neumann's father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, she left her job and moved back to her hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She became his full-time caregiver - cooking, cleaning, and administering medications. When her father died, she was undone by the experience, by grief and the visceral quality of dying. Neumann struggled to put her life back in order and found herself haunted by a question: Was her father's death a good death?

The way we talk about dying and the way we actually die are two very different things, she discovered, and many of us are shielded from what death actually looks like. To gain a better understanding, Neumann became a hospice volunteer and set out to discover what a good death is today. She attended conferences, academic lectures, and grief sessions in church basements. She went to Montana to talk with the attorney who successfully argued for the legalization of aid in dying, and to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to listen to "pro-life" groups who believe the removal of feeding tubes from some patients is tantamount to murder. Above all, she listened to the stories of those who were close to death.

What Neumann found is that death in contemporary America is much more complicated than we think. Medical technologies and increased life expectancies have changed the very definition of medical death. And although death is our common fate, it is also a divisive issue that we all experience differently. What constitutes a good death is unique to each of us, depending on our age, race, economic status, culture, and beliefs. What's more, differing concepts of choice, autonomy, and consent make death a contested landscape, governed by social, medical, legal, and religious systems.

In these words, Neumann brings us intimate portraits of the nurses, patients, bishops, bioethicists, and activists who are shaping the way we die. The Good Death presents a fearless examination of how we approach death and how those of us close to dying loved ones live in death's wake.

©2016 Ann Neumann (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Ugh, so boring

I tried to like this book, and am generally interested in the topic. I absolutely loved “being mortal” , but this was nothing even close to that. I made it about half way before I finally gave up. The narration is a huge part of the disappointment. She is so incredibly dry and there is no expression in her voice. It’s like listening to a robot. The content is good, but written in a way that is difficult to follow and I just couldn’t stay focused or interested. The worst part for me is when the content of the book shifts and becomes a political debate about abortion and human rights. If I were reading and not listening, I’d be asleep two pages in.

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Audible version

I enjoyed the information, stories and Ms Neumann’s personal remarks. However, I found Suzanne Toren (the narrator) difficult to listen to. She doesn’t read with much expression and she tend to mispronounce words.

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  • Ingrid
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 09-30-17

A sensitive, informative important work.

Without having read other books on the subject I am glad that this is the first. Getting to an age where this is inevitable with people I've come to care about and miraculously having escaped that for the better part of my life, I can think of no better way to cultivate awareness on this ever so important subject. The few people I've I know who have died are still so present in my mind and heart. When you're from another country, and people die, if you don't get to travel to their funeral, it oddly feels like they've never passed but that you'll just go back and see them again when you travel back there. It's an odd feeling because logic dictates that you know the truth and what's happened. People can still however remain very alive in your mind. This book is a very helpful preparation for the inevitable that I will face and I've come to face recently given a certain circumstance. Ms. Newman takes so many factors into account that are important to consider on this subject. For me she had made learning or experiencing more about this subject more accessible and contextualized. For that, I thank her. Reading/listening to this book felt like time very well spent.