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The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die

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A riveting, incisive, and wide-ranging book about the Right to Die movement, and the doctors, patients, and activists at the heart of this increasingly urgent issue. As much of the world's population grows older, the quest for a "good death," has become a significant issue. For many, the right to die often means the right to die with dignity. The Inevitable moves beyond ma A riveting, incisive, and wide-ranging book about the Right to Die movement, and the doctors, patients, and activists at the heart of this increasingly urgent issue. As much of the world's population grows older, the quest for a "good death," has become a significant issue. For many, the right to die often means the right to die with dignity. The Inevitable moves beyond margins of the law to the people who are meticulously planning their final hours--far from medical offices, legislative chambers, hospital ethics committees, and polite conversation--and the people who help them, loved ones or clandestine groups on the Internet known as the "euthanasia underground." Katie Engelhart, a veteran journalist, focuses on six people representing different aspects of the debate. Two are doctors: a California physician who runs a boutique assisted death clinic and has written more lethal prescriptions than anyone else in the U.S.; an Australian named Philip Nitschke who lost his medical license for teaching people how to end their lives painlessly and peacefully at "DIY Death" workshops. The other four chapters belong to people who said they wanted to die because they were suffering unbearably--of old age, chronic illness, dementia, and mental anguish--and saw suicide as their only option. Spanning Australia, North America, and Europe, Engelhart presents a deeply reported portrait of everyday people struggling to make hard decisions, and wrestling back a measure of authenticity and dignity to their lives.


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A riveting, incisive, and wide-ranging book about the Right to Die movement, and the doctors, patients, and activists at the heart of this increasingly urgent issue. As much of the world's population grows older, the quest for a "good death," has become a significant issue. For many, the right to die often means the right to die with dignity. The Inevitable moves beyond ma A riveting, incisive, and wide-ranging book about the Right to Die movement, and the doctors, patients, and activists at the heart of this increasingly urgent issue. As much of the world's population grows older, the quest for a "good death," has become a significant issue. For many, the right to die often means the right to die with dignity. The Inevitable moves beyond margins of the law to the people who are meticulously planning their final hours--far from medical offices, legislative chambers, hospital ethics committees, and polite conversation--and the people who help them, loved ones or clandestine groups on the Internet known as the "euthanasia underground." Katie Engelhart, a veteran journalist, focuses on six people representing different aspects of the debate. Two are doctors: a California physician who runs a boutique assisted death clinic and has written more lethal prescriptions than anyone else in the U.S.; an Australian named Philip Nitschke who lost his medical license for teaching people how to end their lives painlessly and peacefully at "DIY Death" workshops. The other four chapters belong to people who said they wanted to die because they were suffering unbearably--of old age, chronic illness, dementia, and mental anguish--and saw suicide as their only option. Spanning Australia, North America, and Europe, Engelhart presents a deeply reported portrait of everyday people struggling to make hard decisions, and wrestling back a measure of authenticity and dignity to their lives.

30 review for The Inevitable: Dispatches on the Right to Die

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Ever since my law degree I have been interested in the topic of euthanasia, assisted suicide and assisted dying; these are often used interchangeably but are in actuality different. Under Section I Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) we are granted the 'Right to Life'. So, it can be argued, why don't we have the Right to Die? Why should others who don't feel or understand the pain of the Ever since my law degree I have been interested in the topic of euthanasia, assisted suicide and assisted dying; these are often used interchangeably but are in actuality different. Under Section I Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (formally the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms) we are granted the 'Right to Life'. So, it can be argued, why don't we have the Right to Die? Why should others who don't feel or understand the pain of the conditions some people face on a daily basis be allowed to decide that we should be kept alive and our life prolonged with endless drugs, treatments operations and so forth? I think there's also an argument that Article 3 of the ECHR —prohibition of torture—which states that one shall not be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, could be argued as coming into play in situations where people are suffering terribly due to drugs companies and the medical field prolonging the inevitable. We should have the autonomy to make this difficult decision ourselves and on our own terms. A growing list of countries now allow assisted dying in one form or another and I hope this list continues to grow; of course, the correct safeguards should be in place and the strict criteria met to deter individuals from abusing or playing the system. This is a compelling and beautifully written investigation into the Right to Die movement exploring a delicate topic that has the potential to be divisive. Award-winning journalist Katie Engelhart explores one of our most abiding taboos: that of assisted dying. From Avril, the 80-year-old British woman illegally importing pentobarbital, to the Australian doctor dispensing suicide manuals online, Engelhart travels the world to hear the stories behind this contentious moral dilemma. At once intensely troubling and profoundly moving, The Inevitable interrogates our most uncomfortable moral questions. Should a paralyzed teenager be allowed to end her life? Should we be free to die painlessly before dementia takes our mind? But the book also does something more. In examining our end, it sheds crucial light on what it means to flourish and live. Highly recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (not getting friends updates) Vegan

    Mostly just my strong feelings… (view spoiler)[ This is an issue near and dear to my heart from the time I was about 12 years old. I get angry when people won’t be helped to die if that’s what they want, for any reason, not just for sure being within 6 months of death. I have zero tolerance for those who try to prevent me from making my own choice to die, whether it’s from fear that abuse could happen or some religious or other belief that suffering is some sort of obligation. I dread being under Mostly just my strong feelings… (view spoiler)[ This is an issue near and dear to my heart from the time I was about 12 years old. I get angry when people won’t be helped to die if that’s what they want, for any reason, not just for sure being within 6 months of death. I have zero tolerance for those who try to prevent me from making my own choice to die, whether it’s from fear that abuse could happen or some religious or other belief that suffering is some sort of obligation. I dread being under the control of anyone like that! It’s a really common belief and .. Reading this just increased my anger. Reading this increased my terror. Magnified it. The timeline included at the back of the book was telling. We seem to be in the infancy of allowing people to choose their time of death and to allow deaths without suffering for those who choose it. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. For over five decades now I’ve hoped this would not only be made easier but would become easy. Everyone deserves a good death if that’s what we want. We allow it for our dogs and our cats but some humans are keeping that right from other humans. Give me barbiturates when I choose to take them, whether ti be because of cancer, dementia, ALS, extreme poverty, and it doesn’t really matter since I should get to choose when there is too much suffering, physical or mental. I am grateful to all those covered in this book who honor others’ wishes and especially those who try to help when help is needed. For those who disagree, then don’t ever take this action for yourself or others but don’t dictate your beliefs to those who don’t agree with you. (hide spoiler)] Well written and acknowledging all sides. I was interested in the various people that made appearances in this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Abbe

    Excellent thought provoking book on the right to die movement and what the moral and philosophical implications of legal euthanasia raise. Thoughfuol written with grace and nuance and at times sad, joyful and chilling. Certainly challenged my views on the subject and gives pause for though about what one would do in that situation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Reads

    Thought-provoking and full of feeling. It makes you look inward at your own views and personal preferences, whilst trying to understand that of others, in various different positions and stages of life. It took me a while to get through this book. Purely because the subject matter is so intense and sensitive. Katie Engelhart's writing is very matter of fact and to the point, which I actually think is needed. Less fussing around and trying to avoid the subject. An interesting read, no matter which s Thought-provoking and full of feeling. It makes you look inward at your own views and personal preferences, whilst trying to understand that of others, in various different positions and stages of life. It took me a while to get through this book. Purely because the subject matter is so intense and sensitive. Katie Engelhart's writing is very matter of fact and to the point, which I actually think is needed. Less fussing around and trying to avoid the subject. An interesting read, no matter which side of the debate you stand.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeannine

    Engelhart is an astute reporter and fantastic writer. She balances empathy with editorial distance, while writing about this incredibly difficult topic. The book examines position assisted death Through personal stories as well as interviews with people working in the right to die movement. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the oncoming “gray tsunami” as more baby boomers turn 65 and potentially overwhelm our medical system. This topic is not going away, in fact it will become a Engelhart is an astute reporter and fantastic writer. She balances empathy with editorial distance, while writing about this incredibly difficult topic. The book examines position assisted death Through personal stories as well as interviews with people working in the right to die movement. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the oncoming “gray tsunami” as more baby boomers turn 65 and potentially overwhelm our medical system. This topic is not going away, in fact it will become a growing part of our larger cultural conversation in the days and years ahead.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daria

    2.75/5. this was a tough read. not even the subject matter, just getting through it was soooooo long and i felt like it took me so long to read every chapter. i wanted to like it, and the subject itself was really interesting to me. the strengths were definitely the people and their stories, and when it strayed away from that (which it did a lot) it was a lot of names, a lot of laws, and not very much to keep me reading. i understand with a book like this you want to put as much information as y 2.75/5. this was a tough read. not even the subject matter, just getting through it was soooooo long and i felt like it took me so long to read every chapter. i wanted to like it, and the subject itself was really interesting to me. the strengths were definitely the people and their stories, and when it strayed away from that (which it did a lot) it was a lot of names, a lot of laws, and not very much to keep me reading. i understand with a book like this you want to put as much information as you can for people to form their own opinions, but after a while it just wasn't interesting. also the final two chapters were not enjoyable to me at all. i understand that sometimes there are villains and unsympathetic characters in all stories, real or fiction, but there was just too much i found negative or unlikeable to even feel for the individuals spotlighted. on to the next!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul Nolan

    A difficult topic approached with sensitivity and balance. The personal stories contained in this book are authentic because they are so distinctly human: imperfect and conflicting. A valuable read for those looking to deepen their understanding of one of the ascending moral and societal issues of the coming decade.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ren HappilyBuriedInBooks

    Katie Englehart writes passionately and compassionately in this wonderful book. She explores the mindsets of a variety of people on both sides of this issue, and of those on the fence. The stories are moving, thought-provoking, and diverse; they’re interspersed with discussions of ethics, philosophy, legislation, politics, and history. Patients, doctors, bioethicists, and a host of others give this book its solid foundation. Chapters flow seamlessly from modern medicine to age to body to memory Katie Englehart writes passionately and compassionately in this wonderful book. She explores the mindsets of a variety of people on both sides of this issue, and of those on the fence. The stories are moving, thought-provoking, and diverse; they’re interspersed with discussions of ethics, philosophy, legislation, politics, and history. Patients, doctors, bioethicists, and a host of others give this book its solid foundation. Chapters flow seamlessly from modern medicine to age to body to memory to mind and to freedom. I really enjoyed this book and I’m certain I’ll go back to it again and again. Thanks to St Martin’s Press and goodreads giveaways for the provided ARC and the opportunity to read this book. My review is honest, unbiased, and voluntary.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Becky Langston

    KatieEngelhart did an excellent job writing about such a touchy topic. She never showed us her opinion about if the right of dying is right or wrong. The people she wrote about had their reasons for choosing their decision to end their life and the doctors who choose to help them accomplish it. I did not agreed on this at all but I do have a better understanding of seeing their side of this subject. One thing I noticed those that wanted to take their lives in their own hands had no belief of an KatieEngelhart did an excellent job writing about such a touchy topic. She never showed us her opinion about if the right of dying is right or wrong. The people she wrote about had their reasons for choosing their decision to end their life and the doctors who choose to help them accomplish it. I did not agreed on this at all but I do have a better understanding of seeing their side of this subject. One thing I noticed those that wanted to take their lives in their own hands had no belief of an afterlife that I noticed. One said "they just wanted a nice long sleep" I wonder if they really comprehend how finished death really is, I wonder if those that one doctor spoke about that some did leave in anguished and terror as they left this world behind that they did saw that death does not killed the soul that it spends eternity somewhere. But then again non of the participants ever spoke of a soul or afterlife. It also made me highly concerned about government that in the future, if the elderly with have the right to live on or if they have in their view no useful function in society. I notice from the book that in Europe and America that the elderly was view more of a burden to be taken care of. I have not seen this in the Asian countries where in Japan it is a honor to take care of their parents as they grow old. I wonder if they have the any participants in this right to die community? I guess the one that upset me the most what the 80 year old women that choose that age to end it all even though she was still in good health. She still had so much more to offer and do in her life. I am worried if someone at any age that might have a bad day, a terrible break-up, and other life changing events that happen to anyone, that giving up on life is their only answer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    The Inevitable is an excellent book. Katie Engelhart did phenomenal reporting to put this book together; she captures all the messiness, contradictions, and nuance of the right-to-die movement. She also does an amazing job of profiling different people - folks planning their own death, physicians, volunteers, public personalities. I appreciated how the book didn't focus so much on the political/legal aspects of passing right-to-die laws, but more on the thoughts, emotions, and actions of the peo The Inevitable is an excellent book. Katie Engelhart did phenomenal reporting to put this book together; she captures all the messiness, contradictions, and nuance of the right-to-die movement. She also does an amazing job of profiling different people - folks planning their own death, physicians, volunteers, public personalities. I appreciated how the book didn't focus so much on the political/legal aspects of passing right-to-die laws, but more on the thoughts, emotions, and actions of the people who are most affected by the issue. I felt a lot of emotions while reading this book. This is an extremely complicated issue, and Engelhart did a fantastic job of showing just how complicated it is. There are no easy answers. What does it mean to have a good death? What does it mean to live and die with dignity? This is a thought-provoking book, and I think it is valuable reading for everyone, regardless of your views on the right-to-die movement.

  11. 5 out of 5

    William T

    This is a good book and I recommend it, but it is not totally coherent. The writing is lucid, the stories relevant and the analysis on topic. The problem is that the subject matter is so big that drawing a "coherent" theme through the book was hard to accomplish. There is plenty here to like and I recommend it, but don't be surprised if you are more confused at the end than you were at the beginning. The subject matter, assisted dying or rational suicide, crosses boundaries all over the map. Kat This is a good book and I recommend it, but it is not totally coherent. The writing is lucid, the stories relevant and the analysis on topic. The problem is that the subject matter is so big that drawing a "coherent" theme through the book was hard to accomplish. There is plenty here to like and I recommend it, but don't be surprised if you are more confused at the end than you were at the beginning. The subject matter, assisted dying or rational suicide, crosses boundaries all over the map. Katie Englehart deserves great praise for her effort. I doubt that this is the last time we will hear from Katie on this subject. She is clearly motivated to understand it. Of course, it would be nice to know if dying is really a release from suffering.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Layth

    Brilliant!

  13. 5 out of 5

    LLDW

    Recommended by The Economist March 20, 2021 issue: https://www.economist.com/books-and-a... Recommended by The Economist March 20, 2021 issue: https://www.economist.com/books-and-a...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maryann

  15. 4 out of 5

    Millie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Amber

  17. 5 out of 5

    Gabe Fellus

  18. 5 out of 5

    Deb

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ava

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda Perlstein

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anna

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mr. Book

  24. 5 out of 5

    John Curd

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eddy Ream

  26. 4 out of 5

    Colleen Thompson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Heavilin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Syikin Brown

  30. 5 out of 5

    Liz

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