Being Mortal

Illness, medicine and what matters in the end

Book cover of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Medicine, Being Mortal reminds us, has prepared itself for life but not for death. This is Atul Gawande's most powerful, and moving, book.

Malcolm Gladwell

Long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014

A profoundly important and moving book from Atul Gawande, best-selling author of ‘Complications’, ‘Better’ and ‘The Checklist Manifesto’, co-published by Wellcome Collection and Profile Books.

This is a book about the modern experience of mortality – what it’s like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it has not, where our ideas about death have gone wrong. With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do.

The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn’t have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life – all the way to the very end.

Date published
Buy the book

About the author

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer and public health researcher. He practises general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He is also Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He delivered the BBC Reith Lectures in 2014, writes regularly for the 'New Yorker' and is author of 'Better', 'Complications' and 'The Checklist Manifesto'.