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How We Live

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Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
Having won the National Book Award for How We Die, his best-selling inquiry into the causes and modes of death, Sherwin Nuland now turns his attention to the miraculous resiliency of human life.  For this lucid, wonderful, and wonder-filled new book explores the body's mysterious capacity to marshal disparate organs and processes in the interests of survival.

Like its predecessor, How We Live is filled with gripping medical case histories: a woman is pulled back from the brink of death from inexplicable internal bleeding; another patient triumphs over breast cancer; the "routine" removal of a polyp triggers a nearly lethal medical crisis.  For Nuland, each of these cases serves to illustrate the extraordinary responsiveness and adaptability of the human organism.  We learn how the aorta's baroreceptors monitor blood pressure and respond to its minutest fluctuations.  We follow the intricate chain of electrochemical command that makes us leap out of the path of a speeding car. We discover why the stomach--which is capable of breaking down everything from porridge to pizza--refrains from digesting itself.  Informed by sympathy for human suffering and an erudition that includes poetry and the Talmud as well as the medical canon, How We Live is science writing of the rarest kind--lucid, poetic, and genuinely uplifting.

Originally published under the title The Wisdom of the Body
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Having won the National Book Award for How We Die, his best-selling inquiry into the causes and modes of death, Sherwin Nuland now turns his attention to the miraculous resiliency of human life.  For this lucid, wonderful, and wonder-filled new book explores the body's mysterious capacity to marshal disparate organs and processes in the interests of survival.

Like its predecessor, How We Live is filled with gripping medical case histories: a woman is pulled back from the brink of death from inexplicable internal bleeding; another patient triumphs over breast cancer; the "routine" removal of a polyp triggers a nearly lethal medical crisis.  For Nuland, each of these cases serves to illustrate the extraordinary responsiveness and adaptability of the human organism.  We learn how the aorta's baroreceptors monitor blood pressure and respond to its minutest fluctuations.  We follow the intricate chain of electrochemical command that makes us leap out of the path of a speeding car. We discover why the stomach--which is capable of breaking down everything from porridge to pizza--refrains from digesting itself.  Informed by sympathy for human suffering and an erudition that includes poetry and the Talmud as well as the medical canon, How We Live is science writing of the rarest kind--lucid, poetic, and genuinely uplifting.

Originally published under the title The Wisdom of the Body
Product Details
Paperback (432 pages)
Published: May 26, 1998
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780679781400
Other books bySherwin B. Nuland
  • The Uncertain Art

    The Uncertain Art
    Thoughts on a Life in Medicine
    “Life is short, and the Art so long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious; and judgment difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and the externals, cooperate.” –attributed to Hippocrates, c. 400 B.C.E. The award-winning author of How We Die and The Art of Aging, venerated physician Sherwin B. Nuland has now written his most thoughtful and engaging book. The Uncertain Art is a superb collection of essays about the vital mix of expertise, intuition, sound judgment, and pure chance that plays a part in a doctor’s practice and life. Drawing from history, the recent past, and his own life, Nuland weaves a tapestry of compelling stories in which doctors have had to make decisions in the face of uncertainty. Topics include the primitive (and sometimes illegal) procedures doctors once practiced with good intentions, such as grave robbing and prescribing cocaine as an anesthetic (which resulted in a physician becoming America’s first cocaine addict); the curious “cures” for irregularity touted by people from the ancient Egyptians to the cereal titan John Harvey Kellogg and bodybuilder Charles Atlas; and healers grappling with today’s complex moral and ethical quandaries, from cloning to gene therapy to the adoption of Eastern practices like acupuncture. Nuland also recounts his most dramatic experiences in a forty-year medical career: the time he was called out of the audience of a Broadway play to help a man having a heart attack (when no other doctor there would respond), and how he formed a profound friendship with an unforgettable–and doomed–heart patient. Behind these inspiring accounts always lie the mysteries of the human body and human nature, the manner in which the ill can will themselves back to health and the odd and essential interactions between a body’s own healing mechanisms and a doctor’s prescriptions. Riveting and wise, amusing and heartrending, The Uncertain Art is Sherwin Nuland’s best work, gems from a man who has spent his professional life acting in the face of ambiguity and sharing what he has learned. From the Hardcover edition.

    The Art of Aging

    The Art of Aging
    A Doctor's Prescription for Well-Being
    In his landmark book How We Die, Sherwin B. Nuland profoundly altered our perception of the end of life. Now in The Art of Aging, Dr. Nuland steps back to explore the impact of aging on our minds and bodies, strivings and relationships. Melding a scientist’s passion for truth with a humanist’s understanding of the heart and soul, Nuland has created a wise, frank, and inspiring book about the ultimate stage of life’s journey. The onset of aging can be so gradual that we are often surprised to find that one day it is fully upon us. The changes to the senses, appearance, reflexes, physical endurance, and sexual appetites are undeniable–and rarely welcome–and yet, as Nuland shows, getting older has its surprising blessings. Age concentrates not only the mind, but the body’s energies, leading many to new sources of creativity, perception, and spiritual intensity. Growing old, Nuland teaches us, is not a disease but an art–and for those who practice it well, it can bring extraordinary rewards. “I’m taking the journey even while I describe it,” writes Nuland, now in his mid-seventies and a veteran of nearly four decades of medical practice. Drawing on his own life and work, as well as the lives of friends both famous and not, Nuland portrays the astonishing variability of the aging experience. Faith and inner strength, the deepening of personal relationships, the realization that career does not define identity, the acceptance that some goals will remain unaccomplished–these are among the secrets of those who age well. Will scientists one day fulfill the dream of eternal youth? Nuland examines the latest research into extending life and the scientists who are pursuing it. But ultimately, what compels him most is what happens to the mind and spirit as life reaches its culminating decades. Reflecting the wisdom of a long lifetime, The Art of Aging is a work of luminous insight, unflinching candor, and profound compassion. From the Hardcover edition.

    How We Die

    How We Die
    Reflections of Life's Final Chapter, New Edition
    New Edition: With a new chapter addressing contemporary issues in end-of-life care A runaway bestseller and National Book Award winner, Sherwin Nuland's How We Die has become the definitive text on perhaps the single most universal human concern: death.  This new edition includes an all-embracing and incisive afterword that examines the current state of health care and our relationship with life as it approaches its terminus.  It also discusses how we can take control of our own final days and those of our loved ones. Shewin Nuland's masterful How We Die is even more relevant than when it was first published.

    Lost in America

    Lost in America
    A Journey with My Father
    A writer renowned for his insight into the mysteries of the body now gives us a lambent and profoundly moving book about the mysteries of family. At its center lies Sherwin Nuland’s Rembrandtesque portrait of his father, Meyer Nudelman, a Jewish garment worker who came to America in the early years of the last century but remained an eternal outsider. Awkward in speech and movement, broken by the premature deaths of a wife and child, Meyer ruled his youngest son with a regime of rage, dependency, and helpless love that outlasted his death. In evoking their relationship, Nuland also summons up the warmth and claustrophobia of a vanished immigrant New York, a world that impelled its children toward success yet made them feel like traitors for leaving it behind. Full of feeling and unwavering observation, Lost in America deserves a place alongside such classics as Patrimony and Call It Sleep. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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