Books et al.Health and Medicine

Matters of life and death

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Science  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6329, pp. 1029
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal4586

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Modern technology and modern medical practice have evolved over the past decades, enabling us to enhance and extend human life to an unprecedented degree. The two books under review examine this phenomenon from remarkably different perspectives. Mark O'Connell's To Be a Machine is an examination of transhumanism, a movement characterized by technologies that seek to transform the human condition and extend life spans indefinitely. Haider Warraich's Modern Death is a physician's well-referenced account of modern medicine's approach to death. Despite their differences, both books advocate for retaking personal control over death. Neither vision is trivial, and both encourage further introspection and deliberation.