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Modern Death

How Medicine Changed the End of Life

Haider Warraich, M.D.

St. Martin's Griffin

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ISBN10: 1250160847
ISBN13: 9781250160843

Trade Paperback

336 Pages



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There is no more universal truth in life than death. No matter who you are, it is certain that one day you will die, but the mechanics and understanding of that experience will differ greatly in today’s modern age. Dr. Haider Warraich is a young and brilliant new voice in the conversation about death and dying started by Dr. Sherwin Nulandand Atul Gawande. Dr. Warraich takes a broader look at how we die today, from the cellular level up to the very definition of death itself.

The most basic aspects of dying—the whys, wheres, whens, and hows—are almost nothing like what they were mere decades ago. Beyond its ecology, epidemiology, and economics, the very ethos of death has changed. Modern Death, Dr. Warraich’s debut book, will explore the rituals and language of dying that have developed in the last century, and how modern technology has not only changed the hows, whens, and wheres of death, but the what of death.

Delving into the vast body of research on the evolving nature of death, Modern Death will provide readers with an enriched understanding of how death differs from the past, what our ancestors got right, and how trends and events have transformed this most final of human experiences.


Praise for Modern Death

"Melding the curiosity of a historian, the discernment of a physician, and the soulfulness of a poet, Haider Warraich provides us a stunning portrait of death in our moment. The modern aspiration to explicate our suffering collides ironically here with an age-old awe at what can only be deeply felt. In revealing just how breathtakingly far science has taken us in understanding the end of life, Dr. Warraich yet honors the fundamental truth that we may never conquer our mortality—and that in dying, we are most fully human."—Rafael Campo, MD, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of Alternative Medicine

"Warraich demystifies what is known and unknown about how cells and bodies die, while sensitively grappling with the changing cultural landscape surrounding the end of life, including patients who tweet and share the details of their decline on social media. His story is filled with compassionate accounts of the different ways he has witnessed people meet death in the modern age."Scientific American

"Daily exposure to death and the agonies of the bereaved prompted cardiologist Haider Warraich to encapsulate the recent transformation in end-of-life care. The result is rich, splicing harrowing cases from the acute admissions ward into medical history and science as he examines everything from the death of a cell to the impact of death on society."Nature

"Medical advances have shifted the boundary between life and death, raising controversial questions for doctors and patients. Physician Haider Warraich zooms in on these issues in Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life, supplementing medical history with tales from the life-death border that are disturbing, bewildering, and inspiring."Psychology Today

"Warraich's quest is remarkable: he wants us to confront the act of dying. A caring and thoughtful doctor, he also writes beautifully—drawing from his own patients and from statistics, medical ethics, literature and the sciences. He succeeds in humanizing a complex topic and gives us remarkable insights about the changing nature of 'modern death.'"—Siddhartha Mukherjee, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene

"There is no topic more universal—or more universally unnerving—than death. Haider Warrich’s Modern Death is a much-needed exploration of this treacherous territory, offering clear-eyed analysis of what it means to die in America today and how to focus one’s own life toward a saner and gentler denouement."—Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Patients Say; What Doctors Hear

"From the minutest exploration of how cells die to the larger philosophical questions about life and death, Haider Warraich invites the reader to contemplate the art and science of death and dying. The author brings us through the 'medicalization' of death and returns us to a deep humanity that we seem to have lost along the way."—Eve Joseph, author of In the Slender Margin

"Warraich delivers a detailed and data-rich study of the history of human death without avoiding the primary characteristics that define the ends of lives today: denial, inequality, overtreatment, and institutionalization. As a growing elder population and rapidly advancing medical technology continue to warp and change health care, doctors serve as our best scouts and guides. Warraich's rich and thorough Modern Death is a necessary contribution to this important canon."—Ann Neumann, author of The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America

"Warraich concludes this sensitive review of a painful subject with guarded optimism that a cultural shift toward open discussion is now occurring. An important contribution to a serious discussion of profound life-and-death issues."Kirkus Reviews

"While other texts have covered issues of medicine and the end of life, Warraich's goes beyond when discussing the role of the digital sphere plays in grief and memorization. Readers . . . will find an engaging and updated outlook in this work."Library Journal

"Warraich thoughtfully investigates the often alarming realities of death in early 21st-century America. As Warraich eloquently explores the act of dying, he urges the public to talk more about it and pleads for 'resuscitating many of the aspects of death that we have lost.'”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Haider Warraich, M.D.

DR. HAIDER WARRAICH graduated from medical school in Pakistan in 2009. He did his residency in internal medicine at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, one of the main teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. He is currently a fellow in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. His medical and Op Ed pieces have appeared in many media outlets including the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, and the LA Times among others.

Shawn Rocco, Duke Health

Haider Warraich

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