As a palliative care physician I assumed I was well versed in the issues covered in “Being Mortal” and I postponed reading the book. I regret waiting. Gawande is a master at teaching important lessons through stories. He manages to review the state of living, aging and dying in the modern medical system of the US. He is self-deprecating and admits his own mistakes as well as those of other physicians he respects. He teaches us with his patients, his friends and his own family. It is not hyperbole to suggest this book is a must read for everyone. I can only hope as our society becomes more aware of the horrible way the American system so often fails the elderly in the last years of life that we can learn from Gawande so each of us can understand our condition, express our goals and fears and inform our physicians the trade-offs in medical care we are willing to accept.

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