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Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  459 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Drawing upon the author’s two decades of teaching medical ethics at America’s top universities and medical schools and his work as a practicing psychiatrist, this innovative book asks readers, when faced with complex, unsettling scenarios readers, What would you do? Some cases are pulled from today’s headlines, others are loosely based on cases reported in professional jou ...more
Hardcover, 329 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Algonquin Books
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Start your review of Who Says You're Dead? Medical & Ethical Dilemmas for the Curious & Concerned
This is a 10-star book. Each of the 100 or so dilemmas, all presented as cases, conclude with the author's thoughts and questions to consider. If you enjoy a book that will make you think deeply and examine differing points of view, then this book will not change your life, but give you the questions you need to answer to help it continue the way you want it to.

There were quite a few dilemmas associated with pregnancy and parents. There are men who seek to force women whom they make pregnant to
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Back in the mid-eighties, I was working at B. Dalton Bookseller when The Book of Questions came on the scene. It was a small book consisting of open-ended questions that required much thought and introspection, like "If you learned you were going to die in a few days, what regrets would you have?", “If you had to tattoo your arm with a message to yourself, what would you write?”, and my favorite - "You discover your wonderful one-year-old child is, because of a mix-up at the hospital, not yours. ...more
Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)

Many thanks to Algonquin Books for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Who Say Your Dead was a very interesting book, though reading it back to back with another very similar science book, I did start to get a little bored.

As technology evolves and changes, so do the 'rules' of science. For instance, in the 1800s, a person was considered dead when they're heart stopped beating. Now, we have life support. Once someone's heart stops beating, they can be put on a ventilator that breat
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-2019

Jacob Appel has given us another unique book this time looking at mostly medical cases as they might, or are viewed ethically. While the book is nonfiction, the patients' privacy has been protected by name and details changed.
As mentioned in the book's summary, and most appropriate, it's similar to a, "What would you do?" if you were the decision maker on each case. While the details are given, Jacob presents a few thought-provoking questions just to spur us on.
The best feature, in my opinion, i
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author is a psychiatrist and bioethicist and he does a great job of sharing thought-provoking ethical dilemmas in the health profession. Each brief chapter describes a scenario and ends with a medical conundrum. Each section features a commentary/reflection from serious (birth defects, eugenics, DNA testing etc.) to relatively mundane interactions (patient-doctor conduct, patient prejudice, business cost etc). There is no conlusion to be made, in fact, the author serves up these musings for ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars

I wasn't sure if I should pick up this book, but when I saw that the author is not only a practicing psychiatrist but also a bioethicist and attorney, I couldn't resist.

Appel looks at 79 dilemmas, some rare (can a millionaire advertise for a new liver?) to situations many of us will face (decisions regarding end of life care). Each case is introduced in a succinct vignette and followed up with a reflection covering legal, ethical, and personal issues that may affect the decision made. I
Cynthia Herzog
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won this book for GoodReads

This book poses a number of ethical issues that arise in real life medicine. Many of these issues are presented from extremes, which the author acknowledges. As a physician, I can confirm that these issues do indeed arise frequently, however, usually much more in the gray area.

The author does not provide answers, but provides context from which the issue can be approached by different people. Although some will take a firm stance on one side or the other of these eth
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I do not usually pick up nonfiction books, the title of this book intrigued me too much to ignore looking further into its content. I know the bare minimum about the medical sciences (enough to get me by at the doctor’s office), but I was amazed by how comprehensive the author made each topic and case study. In my own library-minded opinion, this was an easy-to-read and thoroughly researched piece of nonfiction.

One of my favorite moments was learning about the “yuck factor,” which is when
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Medical ethics and the law:

Jacob M. Appel, MD sets out several medical scenarios ending with a question for the reader to ponder by which time you could possibly have already made a decision based on the bare facts presented.

What follows is his ‘Reflections’ explaining the medical/ethical questions the particular scenario presents, the pros & cons, and the law.

Some of these scenarios I had never thought about and some I had never even imagined possible such as the girl who wanted a large fibergl
thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)
What an insightful and eye-opening book about ethical dilemmas the medical profession faces in this ever changing society. There are six parts in this book with different scenarios under each part and the ethical issues that comes with it. For example, is it ethical for a doctor to reveal to the father or his daughter that they are not biological related when genetic markers during an organ match test reveals that they are not? Is it ethical for prisoners on death row who need organ transplant t ...more
Isabelle Bradbury
I love books that cause me to have an existential crisis, and this was definitely one of those books—it has been the cause of several interesting dinner table discussions, much to my family’s chagrin. I took a chance on this book because I’m one of the most squeamish people you’ll ever meet, so I really appreciate that it wasn’t too nitty gritty with medical details and remained largely focused on ethics! This will remain a favorite.
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Who Says You're Dead? brings the most challenging and unsettling ethics controversies from contemporary science and medicine to the proverbial water cooler. Drawing upon the author’s two decades teaching medical ethics at America’s top universities and
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a medical book for the masses, both informative and entertaining. The doctor/author is a bioethics professor, so he knows the topic very well. He presents all the information in an easy-to-follow, straightforward style. Each chapter covers a different ethical area, then subdivided into specific, brief cases with possible responses. There are no definitive answers, but rather many different opinions are offered. An extensive bibliography is also included. The author humorously uses well-k ...more
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a truly interesting read.
I was more the 'curious' than the 'concerned' from the book title. Each chapter would give you an ethical dilemma from either doctors, surgeons or psychologists/psychiatrists then it would move onto the 'reflection', how they should tackle said dilemmas, usually the dilemmas were made up but it would then relate to a similar real-life case in the 'reflections' section.
I would say I learnt quite a lot but it also made me look at doctors/mental health professions
Tom Donaghey
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medical, ethics
Who Says You’re Dead (2019) by Jacob M. Appel, MD. Wikipedia lists Mr. Jacob M. Appel as (1) an author, (2) poet, (3) bioethicist, (4) physician, (5) lawyer and finally (6) social critic. To say he is a Renaissance man is perhaps to not give him enough credit. That he is a prolific writer of both books and plays, with some poetry thrown in, goes without doubt. But it is with this book that he shines a light on his medical and law degrees, as well as his work as a bioethicist.
I received this bo
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A collection of scenarios in which a medical and ethical dilemma is presented then discussed. In each chapter the author presents a fictional scenario first, then discusses the scenario in terms of bio-ethical standards and options. Most of the scenarios (if not all) are based on true cases both from the past and present. The decision on how you would move forward is never actually these scenarios do not currently have a commonly accepted outcome. You're left to make up your own d ...more
Ken Kugler
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started this book because I was just looking for something different that was in the house. It sounded interesting and so I started. It is made up of short medical delemmas and interesting questions of the ethics involved. What to do? What do you think? Both compelling thoughts that keep you going. There are 79 of them that are used in this book and I liked them, pretty much, all.
I say that it is a good book to start and see what you think. You can always skip a dilemma if it is not your cup o
Michael Paynter
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A delightful series of bite-sized stories and reflections of the labyrinth that is modern medical ethics. Great reading for anyone concerned about morality, medicine, or both.
Evelyn Swift (Featherbrained Books)
I didn't know what to expect reading this but I thoroughly enjoyed it! It was very thought-provoking and there were many times I read out chapters to my partner, just curious to hear his own reaction and thoughts. There was really only a few scenarios that I felt pretty strong morally against, M. Appel made a really compelling case, that even when feeling a righteous indignant 'no that is wrong!' he somehow made me see it from another perspective that had me thinking 'well...maybe this is A LOT ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting, engaging and thought provoking.
Robert Lee Hadden
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those great summer reads, that is also a great book for the little room with no windows. Seventy-nine short descriptions of medical ethics quandaries all follow the same format: a brief description of the question, a commentary showing opposing ideas, and then some direction by laws or customs. Includes a good section for further reading.

Some questions are familiar, such as how to define life or death. Others are blindingly new, such as head transplants, what to do with frozen emb
A 75-year-old needs a kidney transplant. His 49-year-old daughter submits to testing to see if she can donate her kidney to him. Not only is she not a match, but she is not actually his daughter. Does the doctor who receives the test results need to tell her this?*

Dr. Appel is a psychiatrist and bioethicist. His book is full of short, often horrifying scenarios along with discussions about what would be ethical or unethical in each specific case.

This fascinating book inspired me to finally prin
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recently, I stumbled upon an HBO documentary entitled JACOB, a brief look at the life of Jacob Appel, an incredibly brilliant man who has acquired numerous college degrees, teaches, researches, speaks, and writes both fiction and non-fiction. My library owns several of his works, and I checked out the ebook copy of this one. Mr. Appel describes imaginable and a few unimaginable (to me) medical ethics situations and follows each with a succinct, understandable, unbiased summary of decisions that ...more
Karen Heuler
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At first I expected something like Oliver Sacks-style in-depth essays about particular people in particular circumstances, so it was an adjustment to find that these are instead small, quick presentations of an individual dilemma with a discussion of the wider implications in both legal and medical views. Some grabbed my attention more than others (what to do if you're a conjoined twin who wants an operation to separate, but your twin does not?), but none of them are boring and all of them intro ...more
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I recently watched a documentary about the author on Amazon and I was intrigued enough to seek out his written work. I found this book absolutely fascinating! It consists of 79 medical ethics scenarios, all made up by the author. After presenting the issue on one page, the author then gives you information on actual related cases and explores various sides of the issue over the next 2 or 3 pages. This format allows you to think about the issue and come to your own conclusion. (Or not - some of t ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs2019, nonfiction, 2019
Interesting medical scenarios are laid out along with a discussion of the ethical issues involved in each one. If you watch many medical or legal TV shows, you have probably seen some of these situations presented. While no answers are provided, the book would make for a lively book discussion or a useful tool for training doctors and lawyers in the field of bioethics.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this advance reading copy.
Apr 27, 2019 added it
I would recommend this book for anybody considering the medical field, or people who enjoy playing "armchair doctor" whether while watching medical shows (reality-based or not). If you think an issue wasn't featured in enough detail, the last 10% or so of the book does contain citations for further reading. (I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.)
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I ate this book up over two days’ lunch hours. Each chapter is crunchy and tasty, like popcorn. Then there are lingering questions that you can wiggle out of your teeth during the rest of your shift.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it
A blood test in preparation for a kidney donation reveals that the daughter donating the organ is not her father's biological daughter. Should she be informed? How about the father? This and dozens of other ethical dilemmas in medicine are presented by Dr. Appel in his latest book. Each chapter opens with a possible scenario, many – if not most – of which appear to be based on a real case, and we are asked, "What should they do?" He then offers several possibilities, and includes historical cont ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-thing
Very accessible survey of the ever expanding array of ethical and medical questions facing physicians, researchers and courts resulting from the advances in life sustaining and life creating technologies in the past fifty years.

Appel introduces each of his dilemmas in brief, inviting the reader to form a gut reaction, then goes on to provide the history and precedent, in most cases not quite stating a preferred conclusion. References to schools of philosophical thought round things out nicely.

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**Please note: A limited number of complimentary electronic copies of several of my books are available for review. Please email me directly if you are interested**

Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than tw

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