A Life Worth Living is a book for people facing difficult decisions while enduring a serious illness or watching a loved one endure such an illness. Robert Martensen, a physician, historian, and ethicist, draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness, from diagnosis to end of life. He connects personal stories with reflections upon mortality, human agency, and the value of “cutting-edge” technology in caring for the critically ill. Timely questions emerge: To what extent should efforts to extend human life be made? What is the value of nontraditional medical treatment? How has the American health-care system affected treatment of the critically ill? And finally, what are our doctors’ responsibilities to us as patients, and where do those responsibilities end? Using case studies he’s encountered, Martensen demonstrates how we and our loved ones can maintain dignity and resilience in the face of life’s most daunting circumstances.
Robert Martensen is a physician, historian, and bioethicist, and has held several professorships. Recently, he joined the National Institutes of Health as director of its Office of History and Museum. In 2002 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.