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Death Be Not Proud
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Death Be Not Proud

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  8,328 ratings  ·  466 reviews
Johnny Gunther Jr. was only seventeen years old when he died of a brain tumor. During the months of his illness, everyone near him was unforgettably impressed by his level-headed courage, his wit and quiet friendliness, and, above all, his unfaltering patience through times of despair. This deeply moving book is a father's memoir of a brave, intelligent, and spirited boy.
Paperback, P 111, 161 pages
Published 1965 by Harper & Row Perennial Library (first published 1949)
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Someone (okay, mt therapist) suggested I reread this. Was he comparing my MS to a grapefruit-sized brain tumor? Why is it that everyone who has a real medical issue wants to believe it's psychosomatic and everyone with a psychosomatic condition wants it to be real?

My new take on the book, after fourteen years passing since I first read it:

Tonight, I read someone’s review of “Death Be Not Proud” on, a great review for a classic book, but for some misguided search for understanding
Aug 19, 2007 Elise rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy being in touch with their emotional side
Shelves: personalfave
This book first caught my attention when I read the title, a reference to a John Donne poem by the same name. I was immediately intrigued, and decided to read this story of a a young boy who dies of a brain tumor.
The book was written by the boy's father after his death, and in many ways is the eulogy of a bereaved father who desperately loves his son. He writes of the genius of the boy, and we, the reader, come to believe with the father that this young man would have truly changed the world h
I think it is too easy to talk about children who die before adulthood as though they are saints. They are unflawed and therefore able to be exalted as perfect after their deaths. They are - in the eyes of the storytellers - eternally brave, friendly, and hopeful. While the copy of Death Be Not Proud that I have includes Johnny's diary and letters, I do not believe that this account of his life was true in the sense that it tells his story from his own mouth. How do we know that he was not just ...more
This book, a true story told in the most depressing but straight forward manner you could read it in. The writer, the boys father, tells it from his point of view. The sadness he felt, the total love he had for his son. The story is about the life of a tumor with in you Johnny Gunther JR. One that should've killed him within months but he outlasted it for years. It made me cry by the truth in it. The will of the human spirit. I would recommend it to everyone. Which is saying a lot as I rarely re ...more
A profound little book. I started reading this ages ago, before I was fully able to understand the subject matter. Now, reading it again as a young adult I am more apt to understand and appreciate this work. I am fascinated by Johnny's selfless tendencies - to care more for his parents than his own trials. He does express his upset occasionally, but for the most part he is consumed by his passions in science and his aspirations for the future.
I wonder if he is so optimistic about his recovery b
Sophia Mendoza
A heartbreaking tale that would give you a positive look about being ALIVE. Be thankful. Be stupefied. We should feel blessed that we still have a wonderful life to live. Johnny had the same age as mine when he left this world. Too young for such a man than takes every single day of his life to be very very very vital. He could've done so many great and indescribable things, if it had not been for that evil thing we call 'brain tumor'. Johnny, I salute you! I admire your courage and willingness ...more
reread this memoir,after many years, of a teenage son's 15-month fight against brain cancer in the mid-1940s. it's moving, and fascinating not only in itself but as a time capsule...

for one thing, gunther references the intelligentsia of the 30s and 40s (somehow without seeming like he's name dropping - but that could also be because the names are older... and some have fallen into obscurity). in a weird way, it reminded me of the movie Quiz Show, in its portrait of a time and (certain) place w
Ryan Holiday
I picked this up at a used book store prepared to throw it away if it wasn't good. In my experience, the better the title of a book you've never heard of, the more likely it is to be disappointing. By that standard, I was willing to take a chance on Death Be Not Proud but fully expected to be disappointed. I wasn't. Written in 1949 by the famous journalist John Gunther about his death of his son-a genius-at 17 from a brain tumor, DBNP is deeply moving and profound. As a young person who has acco ...more
Lisa Vegan
Jun 05, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those with an interest in cancer patients & those who enjoy memoirs
My mother died from cancer shortly before my twelfth birthday and this might have been the first book about a cancer patient that I read; I did read it around that time. The first of many books as since that time period I’ve developed a rather morbid interest in reading books about cancer and cancer patients. I remember appreciating this one because it unflinchingly described what it was like to live with and die from cancer (the honesty extremely unusual for its time) and because I liked the ex ...more
DEATH BE NOT PROUD. (1949). John Gunther. ****.
This is a very moving account of the sickness and death of the author’s son, Johnnie. His boy, seventeen-years old at the time, was diagnosed as having a tumor on the brain. We are taken from the early stages of the diagnosis to the point where they have fully characterized the tumor, and know that there was ultimately no hope for the boy. Through his father, mostly, we meet Johnnie, and learn a lot about his life before his sickness. We follow him
Kate Fletcher
I found this drab. A sad story. It was difficult to relate to the situation. Though Johnny Gunther seemed to have had a spirit even his overbearingly proud father could not dim even through his(father's) storytelling. I felt it was a rather inappropriate publication and seemed to have served the purpose of easing his(author's) own pain rather than enlightening the public with the triumphant soul of a helpless child, which is understandable. This story might better have been told with outside ass ...more
i read this book because a student of mine had to read it for summer reading at FLC (franklin learning center). mostly, the book left me with a sad, disappointed feeling. i think that the topic of death is an important one, especially because my students are well-acquainted with it and should be given avenues through which to discuss it, but i'd like to think there's another, better book out there.
I don't like the goodreads rating system. I want to give this book 3 stars, but the designation "it was OK" is more fitting than "I liked it." Yet, 2 stars seems like an unnecessary slam.

The book is a little saccharine for my taste. Basically it comes down to a father who loved his son and was full of justified or unjustified pride. According to Mr. Gunther, his son was: better, smarter, nicer, braver, etc than any other person on the face of the planet. I understand why he felt that way and I t
This must be my month for memoirs - on my last trip to the library , of the 5 books I checked out all 5 are memoirs ! When I looked at Gunther's Death Be Not Proud in my stack of books , I wondered why it was there , since like most people I had read it for an assignment in High School . After the shocking fact that High School was 30 + years ago ran through my head , I remembered that I loved this book back then and it was worthy of being a re-read .

A few things happened before , during and
The book I read was worth reading. This book is about a boy, his name is johnny. Johnny is a sick boy that has trouble in life but is full of joy. Johnny has a brain tumor, although he has a brain tumor nothing stops him from being happy. John Gunther wrote a good book, the story was touching.

My opinion about this book was that it was good. This book was as sad as a crying panda bear. While I was reading I had no more tears to cry I cried all my tears. Also I like the book for its theme. The the
David Kuhn
This memoir about death is full of life.
Arlee Bird
Called in to serve jury duty and wanting something to read while waiting in the jurors room, I grabbed this book off of a shelf of old books in my garage. Ironically I didn't get placed on a jury, but now I'm putting myself to judge this book.

I'd never heard of the book before and was not familiar with the author even though I'd had the book sitting in my garage for many years. From my research on the author I found that he was well known from the late 1930's until the 1970's. Though he'd writte
Grace Garner
John Gunther writes a wonderful memoir for his late son, john (Johnny) Gunther jr., that is equally filled with sorrow and heartbreak as it is with love and admiration.
After Johnny is diagnosed with a brain tumor, Gunther finds his entire life has been consumed by Johnny's illness. Constant trips to hospitals cause Johnny to become depressed. His biggest priority is to get back into school. After Johnny realizes his condition may be terminal, his priorities are forced to change drastically. Man
Didn't do much for me. Two stars for the two topics this book covered, both of which grew completely tiresome by the end: excruciatingly detailed accounts of an endless series of medical treatments; and a fawning, barely-believable litany of praise for young Johnny Gunther and his saintly behavior as he endures said treatments.

I think what kept me from enjoying this book was that the vignettes describing Johnny's academic and scientific ambitions and his quips and one-liners that apparently inst
Death Be Not Proud is a non-fiction book about a high schooler named Jonny Gunther that was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It began when Johnny got a stiff neck but very quickly turned into a giant brain tumor. During his year and a half battle with a brain tumor Johnny managed to graduate high school, and even better, get accepted into college at Harvard University. But these accomplishments of his were only short lived, as Johnny died a few days after receiving this news.

I think Death Be Not
This book was my first Non-Fiction book I have read all year, or possibly in my whole life, and I couldn’t be more thankful that I chose it as ‘my first’. After the first few pages, it was clear to me that I hadn’t read anything quite like it. It’s obvious that the wording is different, but that is understandable once recognizing the time period. But the book was so different because the way John Gunther writes is indescribable. He writes with such little emotion, but yet when it comes to the s ...more
Death Be not Proud by John Gunther is a memoir about his son Johnny's sickness. Johnny is a seventeen year old boy who is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Johnny is sent to see Tracy Putnam a neurologist by his family doctor Traeger.Johnny has his first operation on April 29 which last six hours. Johnny had a welt on his head the size of a grape fruit. after his first operation Johnny see's countless doctor and tries many varieties of treatment. He tried mustard gas, a special diet, another opera ...more
Tristan Goding
To me, this is the book to end all books. If I were to make a list of my five favorite books, this one would most definitely be on there. Is it the most beautiful book I have ever read. Johnny is an inspiration to me. He changed my life. He helped me understand death. He reminded me why being alive is such a valuable thing. He encouraged me to continue being a good person. Most importantly, he taught me that every day is a new day and that, no matter what happens, the sun will always rise. I urg ...more
The last book I read in 2008. It was a re-read for me, but one I hadn't read in 40 years, so time for a re-read.

I was amazed that brain surgery was as advanced in 1946 as it was. There have clearly been great strides in treating cancers since then, but the type which Johnny Gunther had is still fatal in a very short period.

I thought Johnny was very brave in the face of the procedures they put him through, incredibly intelligent, and his death was a true loss of talent. However, I think the par
This is an emotionally wrenching, but inspiring story of John Gunther, Jr., a brilliant adolescent boy who fought valiantly against an advancing brain tumor, a battle he eventually lost in 1947 at age 17. This book is his father’s account of the story, and it includes many journal entries from Johnny himself as he bravely faces his fate, but strives to learn and contribute as much as he can—and graduate high school— in what time he has left. One of the most touching parts of the book is Johnny G ...more
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Larry Mapp
The book Death Be Not Proud was written by a man name John Gunther. The story is about a man who is telling a life memoir on just son who's name is also John Gunther who developed a very serious brain tumor at a young age in his life. The story basically gives the descriptions of John Gunther's personality and behaviors. It said that he was a very bright young man who people enjoyed to see grow and mature in the short time that he could. The people around him was impressed by the mindset of John ...more
Trisha Trantham
Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther is a depressing story about a boy at the age of 17 receiving the news that he has a brain tumor. The book tells about the boy, Johnny Gunther, and the courage he had throughout the treatments of the brain tumor. He was very intelligent in school and strived to do his best at everything. Johnny did not want the brain tumor to alter his life negatively in any way, and the book explains that.
I liked the book because it made a person realize how fortunate they rea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a re-read of something I first encountered ~35 years ago. I remember liking it more then. Because of the time period, age of the protagonist and the foregone conclusion (and all the letters and diary entries), it reminds me a bit of The Diary of Anne Frank, with cancer standing in for the Nazis. I think it's a great memorial to his son, but am unsure whether it stands as a true classic.

The bit about their detour with Gerson struck one of my hot button issues, of cancer and "alternative m
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John Gunther was born on August 30, 1901 on the North Side of Chicago. He was one of the best known and most admired journalists of his day, and his series of "Inside" books, starting with Inside Europe in 1936, were immensely popular profiles of the major world powers. One critic noted that it was Gunther's special gift to "unite the best qualities of the newspaperman and the historian." It was a ...more
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“What is life? It departs covertly. Like a thief Death took him.” 12 likes
“Live while you live, then die and be done with.” 7 likes
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