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The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America
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The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  265 ratings  ·  65 reviews
Following the death of her father, journalist and hospice volunteer Ann Neumann sets out to examine what it means to die well in the United States.
If a good death exists, what does it look like? This question lies at the heart of Neumann’s rigorously researched and intimately told journey along the ultimate borderland of American life: American death. From church basement
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by Beacon Press (first published January 5th 2016)
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Ellen Gail
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those who liked the documentary "How to Die in Oregon"
3.5, very nearly 4 stars for me. The Good Death feels unfocused at times, but is nevertheless a strong work of nonfiction.

What does it mean to have a good death? Following her fathers death, author Ann Neumann searches for answers. Her journey takes her through hospice volunteering, the Death with Dignity movement, and pro-life activists, among others. She finds no easy answers, but rather more and more evidence that a "good death" may be something that eludes us all.

What The Good Death does wel
Book Riot Community
As journalist Neumann went through the process of losing her father, she began wondering about the expression "a good death." Had her father died a good death. Haunted by this question, she signed on as a hospice volunteer to try and learn what it means to die a good death in America today. What she discovered is a fascinating look at what it means to be dying or close to someone who is dying in this country, and how our views of death have changed over the years.

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M. Sarki
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

Over the past couple of years there have been several books ordered or taken down from my shelf regarding the subject of death. Some would say the subject is too morose to burden oneself with. But the final outcome of life is what we might expect given if facts are adhered to honestly. There is nothing more for me to add in reviewing The Good Death by Ann Neumann. Reading this book was not fun, but instead informative, upsetting, and interesting. There is
I will put a quote here when this book is published.

Being Mortal really made me think about end of life issues. I am grateful to Gawande for his look at how we make decisions about dying. Apparently, I am not done thinking about end of life issues because when I was offered this book through Edelweiss, I decided it was worth trying.

Decisions about the way I want to die seem a lot more relevant now, than earlier in my life. First of all, my mom is 86. She has been talking about what a good death
Bob Schnell
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
As much as we don't like to think about it, we are all going to die. And as much as we'd like to think that we have some control over how we will expire, the truth is that the manner of our demise is all too often left to others to decide. Journalist Ann Neumann explores the various options for dying in America in her book "The Good Death".

This book has been sitting on my shelf of advanced reading copies for so long that I had forgotten it was there. It's size and lightweight led me to grab it i
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was not what I thought it was going to be. I suppose that's my bad for not reading reviews, and just the blurb provided online. I originally thought this would be a book about the culture of death and dying in America, and it kind of is, but it has a very firm focus on death with dignity laws.

The two main reasons this book only gets two stars: the (possibly unintentional but who can be sure) anti-Semitism and the blatant ableism. I'll explain. The author is anti-Semitic when they (unn
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
“Knowing death makes facing it bearable.” – Ann Neumann

My father passed away last August and ever since then I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotions and reflections on what it means to die. I saw this book on Beacon Press’ Goodreads giveaway page and I signed up for it. I’m very glad I did.

Author Neumann gives readers plenty to think about. She explores many different facets of dying in America, some I knew about, some I didn’t, and some that didn’t even occur to me. This allowed me to read mor
LaShawnda Jones
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America by Ann Neumann

One of the first phrases to stand out to me was part of a story Ann Neumann shared of a terminal man in the Midwest. He thought it was important to “participate in our own death.” (p 69)

There was a very strong sense that Ann Neumann was directing her words and somewhat undercover activism to a very distinct audience. Her audience was very much so white middle class, middle aged women. There were several times in the text when my ne
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It seems like the past year has brought us our share of books that deal with death and dying: Being Mortal and When Breath Becomes Air were two which I've read and thought were very well done.

My most recent read on the subject was by author, Ann Neumann shares the death and dying experience of her father and then further examines death in the American Culture. Ann was 37 when she returned home to help care for her 60 year old father who was dying of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. After refusing the las
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a free book in exchange for a review.
This is a very comprehensive look at death and dying in America. This is a must for all health care professionals, terminally ill patients and family's. Dying is big business with something for everyone; all support groups, activists, news media.
Many important topics are discussed to include abortion, death with dignity movements and suicide. Not only at home or in hospitals, but hospice and the prison system. Many cases are discussed that have made
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
In The Good Death Ann Neumann examines death in America using her experience as a caregiver for her dying father as the springboard. She succeeds in looking both pragmatically and emotionally at what death is and what it isn't.

Unlike some memoirs on the topic of death this is not written specifically just to tell one person's death and the effect it has on others. Those books are wonderful for what they are but do not even try, understandably so, to "examine" death in America but rather to illus
Neumann isn't kidding when she calls this book an exploration, but it's much more than an exploration of dying, or more, it's an exploration of all forms of death in America. Neumann dives deep into the issues of justice surrounding what it means to be allowed to die in a world where comfort care is mandatory and very often forced upon patients who are unable, either figuratively because of the emotionally strange and singular position they are put in, or literally, because they are unable to co ...more
Ending Well
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: death-dying
Ultimately, her conclusion that there is no good death, but there is good enough death makes this book an invaluable addition to the “death cannon”. While investigating the institutions that shape our dying she seems surprisingly blind to how race, gender, and class impact that shaping. The failure to investigate the relationship between race and medicine is a surprising blind spot. Her inability to grasp the core of disability rights arguments- that quality of life should be judged by own value ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't know how to say that a book about death was fantastic, but this was. I felt it very well rounded. Lots of different positions and perspectives on death that were pretty fairly represented and opinions were insightful and not forced. It's a lot of info at times but, just when I thought it was going over my head, it wasn't. I didn't have to double back to understand which I appreciate from a book of this nature. It's a lot that needs talked about more than it is. Death is a reality that we ...more
Dorothy Mahoney
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive history of the debate of assisted-dying in Canada and what happens in other countries, like Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Martin chronicles the battle through anecdotes and cases like Sue Rodriguez, Tracy Latimer, Layton Myers, Ruth Bach, Al Purdy, Margaret Lawrence... "Pain and suffering aren't just a physical experience; it is an emotional and spiritual experience and it has to be addressed on all those levels" as quoted by Gabor Mate, a family doctor of Vancouverit ...more
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Neumann writes eloquently on the struggles of dying in America. Building on the foundations laid down by previous journalists like Jessica Mitford, Neumann argued that we spend too much money caring for our dead and dying and yet we don’t do enough. In personal narratives intermingled between reviews of the current literature on death, dying, and palliative care in the U.S. Neumann brings to light issues that will one day be central to each of our lives, if they aren’t already, in a way that is ...more
Sara Van Dyck
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
As they say – not for the faint of heart. Most of this book deals with the not-good death. But many of us will at some point have to gather our courage and peek at what lies ahead, and it’s not a pretty picture. Neumann is clearly angry about much of what she sees, and it is frightening to think how easily any one of us could become one of those cases. Many of Neumann’s stories involve the boon of personal caring, but what I take from this book is that we need to be fierce about changing some of ...more
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am frequently horrified by the choices that patients and their loved ones make for the care of the dying. This book explored modern American's cultural desire to prolong life and "fight the good fight" in the face of terminal illness. She also discusses the legal hurdles to physician assisted suicide and the financial strain of hospice care. There is no good death--there is only a good enough death, but it is hard to achieve. No matter how death comes, the living will grieve.
John Mosman
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medical
I am not sure if it was this book or another source, but it was said that death in the US is often painful and not dignified (not including accidents and sudden death). This book is a start to learning how to counteract that kind of death. The author volunteered for several hospice patients, learned about the Terry Schiavo situation and assisted suicide groups, pro and con. Neumann provides compassionate thoughts about a good death and provides a start to thinking about what a good death is.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I really loved this book. It ended up being more political than I expected, in that it talks a great deal about the assisted suicide/dignity in dying movements, the "pro-life" movement, and mass incarnation. I expected the book to be more of a memoir (which is still was) or a sociology book. But still, I enjoyed learning about those topics.
Barbara Kemp
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was interesting, although not as impactful as Being Mortal. This book spent more time on Aid in Dying and Right to Life issues than aging and dying naturally. Still an important topic and captivating.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
In this book, Ann Neumann explores death and dying from her father's passing all the way to prison deaths. Her information is informative and sometimes fascinating. This is a subject from which many recoil, but something we all must ultimately face. It's worth the look which this book gives us.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
I imagine I will listen to this one again.
Kristina Shiroma
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Awesome for the inclusive info everyone who wants to be in charge of their last years, months, days, hours, etc. needs to know.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The book is well researched and the information is important and well worth knowing, but while a worthwhile read I found it somewhat repetitive and slowin parts.
Katharine Rudzitis
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
A few moving moments, but overall not particularly decisive or solutions oriented.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Only got halfway. Beginning was good but it got repetitive and annoying about pro life and pro choice laws and cases. I wanted for anecdotes from the dying.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent research-based book sandwiched between two awkward, memoir-esque first and last chapters.
More memoir than impartial research - not a bad thing, but not necessarily what I was expecting. Still completely engrossing.
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