The first sentence of the introduction indicates the author's intention to talk about "how we do it--and how we could do it". Ending life, she says, is an issue under sustained debate in the United States and in much of the developed world. The argument over physician-assisted suicide is the central framework. The described debates on euthanasia and suicide include two pro and three con arguments in American and international contexts. This collection includes essays, practical notes, historical explorations, policy analyses, fiction, and creative non-fiction written by the author.

The author describes the role of fiction and creative non-fiction as offering a recognition of narrative as a respected form of investigation of social issues. Included are two selections that are in this genre and they are very powerful. The essay on the ethics of self-sacrifice is timely and well written. The author's final conclusion is that Stoic and Christian thinking are still in active collision in much of our consideration of these issues and that this means that advance personal policy making remains in the fullest sense an exercise for each individual.


This is not an easy book to read and needs to be taken in short segments. However, the selections are well written and cogent. They cover "state of the art" issues and, individually they may be useful for students in classes addressing a variety of subjects related to dying. I especially liked the fiction and creative non-fiction selections and believe students would relate to them.


Margaret Pabst Battin, PhD. is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah. Awards from the University of Utah include the Distinguished Research Award (1997) and the Rosenblatt Prize (2000).


Oxford Univ. Press

Place Published

New York



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