The Undead by Dick Teresi
Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers--How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death

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Ultimately, you begin to feel for Mr. Teresi. Like many professional provocateurs, he is apparently just a frightened innocent at heart, asking that medicine justify its scientific pretensions with some comforting certainties.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Important and provocative, The Undead examines why even with the tools of advanced technology, what we think of as life and death, consciousness and nonconsciousness, is not exactly clear and how this problem has been further complicated by the business of organ harvesting.

Dick Teresi, a science writer with a dark sense of humor, manages to make this story entertaining, informative, and accessible as he shows how death determination has become more complicated than ever. Teresi introduces us to brain-death experts, hospice workers, undertakers, coma specialists and those who have recovered from coma, organ transplant surgeons and organ procurers, anesthesiologists who study pain in legally dead patients, doctors who have saved living patients from organ harvests, nurses who care for beating-heart cadavers, ICU doctors who feel subtly pressured to declare patients dead rather than save them, and many others. Much of what they have to say is shocking. Teresi also provides a brief history of how death has been determined from the times of the ancient Egyptians and the Incas through the twenty-first century. And he draws on the writings and theories of celebrated scientists, doctors, and researchers—Jacques-Bénigne Winslow, Sherwin Nuland, Harvey Cushing, and Lynn Margulis, among others—to reveal how theories about dying and death have changed. With The Undead, Teresi makes us think twice about how the medical community decides when someone is dead.

 

About Dick Teresi

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Dick Teresi is the coauthor of The God Particle and the author of Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science, both selected as New York Times Book Review Notable Books. He has been the editor in chief of Science Digest, Longevity, VQ, and Omni, and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic, among other publications.
 
Published March 13, 2012 by Pantheon. 370 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Undead
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Elizabeth Royte on Mar 30 2012

...he hasn’t told the entire story...This disturbing, often hilarious book raises many critical questions about deadness. But it doesn’t, by a long shot, answer them.

Read Full Review of The Undead: Organ Harvesting,... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Abigail Zuger, M.d. on Mar 26 2012

Ultimately, you begin to feel for Mr. Teresi. Like many professional provocateurs, he is apparently just a frightened innocent at heart, asking that medicine justify its scientific pretensions with some comforting certainties.

Read Full Review of The Undead: Organ Harvesting,... | See more reviews from NY Times

Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Mac Farrant on Apr 06 2012

Teresi lets the evidence speak for itself. The simple question he asks is: “When exactly is a person dead?” Prepare to have your assumptions shattered.

Read Full Review of The Undead: Organ Harvesting,... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

Reader Rating for The Undead
48%

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