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Death Be Not Proud (Perennial Classics)
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Death Be Not Proud (Perennial Classics)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  7,395 ratings  ·  426 reviews
"Death Be Not Proud" chronicles Johnny Gunther's gallant struggle against the malignant brain tumor that killed him at the age of seventeen. The book opens with his father's fond, vivid portrait of his son - a young man of extraordinary intellectual promise, who excelled at physics, math, and chess, but was also an active, good-hearted, and fun-loving kid. But the heart of ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1949)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Yulia
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 Goodreads.com, a great review for a classic book, but for some misguided search for understanding
...more
Elise
Aug 19, 2007 Elise rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
...more
Jeremiah
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
Breanna
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
...more
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
Jill
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
Rachel
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
...more
Lisa Vegan
Jun 05, 2007 Lisa Vegan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Brooke
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.
Heather
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
...more
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
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
...more
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
...more
Ian
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
...more
Lauren
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
Angie
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
...more
Sierra
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
Lspinna13
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
...more
Maggie
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
...more
Kelly
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
JDK1962
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
...more
Zoe Lieberman
Death Be Not Proud is one of the most compelling and moving pieces of literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading. As John Gunther illustrates his son, Johnny's, unfortunately brief time on earth, he communicates a powerful message about the beauty of life and the wonder of death.

When Johnny is diagnosed with a brain tumor that will inevitably kill him, Gunther and his wife Frances are destroyed. Struck with disbelief, they don't know where to turn. The author made me feel as though I we
...more
Chung Chin
Death Be Not Proud is an inspiring account of a boy's fight against Death. In this book, John Gunther writes about his son's struggle against brain tumor. Readers will want to read this book not because they can find out about the different treatments used for brain cancers, nor because they want to read about just another story of man's fight agains illness.

Readers will reach for this book because they want to know about the indomitable spirit and will to live of a boy struck with brain tumor;
...more
Jeffrey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin
I grabbed this book off my shelf several times over the past couple years but always put it back out of the fear that it would be all too depressing. As a father myself, it sounded like a rather unpleasant experience to read another father chronicle the death of his seventeen-year-old son. But when I finally put those concerns aside, I found that Death Be Not Proud wasn't all that depressing after all. But it also wasn't very good.

The book offered very little for me in terms of reflections on l
...more
J
Death Be Not Proud was one of a number of books I was supposed to read in sixth grade, along with The Diary of Anne Frank and The Miracle Worker, presumably to get a better understanding of how privileged I actually was. I never did get around to reading Death Be Not Proud because as an adolescent I think I would not really have been able to grasp how much strength he showed during the course of his illness and how brave he was to face death as he did. Now in my thirties, having lost a child of ...more
Samantha C
The past is tolerable if remote enough. - p. 16

What is a mind for, except to reason with? - p. 17

Very soon we discovered several things about doctors. One is that they seldom, if ever, tell you everything. Another is that there is much, even within the confines of a splinter-thin specialty, that they themselves do not know. - p. 26

The causation of cancer is the greatest and most formidable of all the unknowns of modern science. - p. 44

Live while you live, then die and be done with. - p. 174

Death
...more
Anna
This is the account of a journalist's son dying from a rare brain tumor. The book is written by a father who obviously adores his son, but the way the father writes about the whole experience, leaves one feeling rather disconnected and empty-handed. Perhaps it's because the father's treatment of the memoir, as it is written journalistically, instead of being clouded with much personal emotion.
We are treated to an insider's view of medicine in the 50's and that in and of itself is fascinating, b
...more
Jhastings09
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
...more
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Reading "Death be not Proud" just before or after the death of a loved one 3 27 Oct 16, 2013 11:16PM  
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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.” 10 likes
“Live while you live, then die and be done with.” 6 likes
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