IAHPC Book Reviews

2019; Volume 20, No 12, December

IAHPC Book Reviews

A Roundup of 2019’s Books of the Month

Dr. Roger Woodruff published dozens of reviews in the past year; these were each month’s best, in chronological order.

EUTHANASIA, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY: An Argument Against Legalisation. 2nd ed.

John Keown
Cambridge University Press, 2018
531 pp, softcover
Also available: eBook
ISBN 978-1107618336
RRP $US44.99 £28.79

This is the latest addition to John Keown’s library of excellent books to do with euthanasia — Euthanasia Examined (Cambridge, 1995), Euthanasia, Ethics and Public Policy (Cambridge, 2002), Debating Euthanasia (Hart, 2012), and The Law and Ethics of Medicine (Oxford, 2012). Perhaps because a lot has happened in the 16 years since the first edition, I thought this latest was the best.

Read the review


Janine Carranza
Janine Carranza, 2018
301 pp, hardcover
ISBN 978-0-692-19320-4
RRP $US42.45 £32.45

The first thing that drew my attention was the manner in which Carranza talked about different aspects of hospice work. She is wary of ‘evidence-based practice,’ which she describes as the go-to safe path in the practice of Western medicine, but it is missing in what is as yet un-evidenced. She takes patient-centered care to an extra level ‘…to practice medicine that fits the patient, not fit the patient into the practice that we know in medicine.’ During the dying process, she says, ‘It is our job as medical professionals to allow the sick person to lead.’ She discusses what she feels is or is not appropriate, and ends, ‘Questions matter, answers may or may not come, being there is everything.’ And she says that whilst death may involve the loss of our earthly physical companions, the deepest connections of one to another remain forever.

Read the review

DYING AT THE MARGINS: Reflections on Justice and Healing for Inner-City Poor

David Wendell Moller (ed.)
Oxford University Press, 2019
254 pp, softcover
Also available: eBook
ISBN 978-0-19-976014-5
RRP $US49.95 £32.99

In the preface and introductory chapter, we are introduced to a number of very impoverished Afro-American inner-city folk who are dying. As well as providing the social and historical background, Moller emphasizes the need for attentive and mindful listening. ‘In short, the suffering of the poor is exacerbated by inattention to and dismissal of their needs. [But]…if we take notice of them by paying attention to their stories we are led to an appreciation of their soulfulness, their humanity, and become observers of the fundamental goodness that defines much of who they are.’ These stories may ‘illuminate strength and dignity, and profile the courage of people who live creatively and meaningfully in burdensome circumstances.’

Read the review


Ann M. Berger, Pamela S. Hinds and Christina M. Puchalski (eds.)
Demos Medical (Springer Publishing), 2019
341 pp, softcover
Also available: eBook
ISBN 978-0826128249
RRP $US63.97 £69.95 $AU91.00

The first thing that struck me about this book was that all three editors had been involved with books in the past that I had admired. Ann Berger was senior editor for the four editions of Principles and Practice of Palliative Care and Supportive Oncology (4th ed., Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2013), which I particularly liked because supportive oncology and palliative care were discussed as part of the same deal. The Textbook of Interdisciplinary Pediatric Palliative Care (Saunders, 2011), edited by Hinds et al., expressed similar ideals. And I found Puchalski’s A Time for Listening and Caring—Spirituality and the Care of the Chronically Ill and Dying (OUP, 2006), which explored the practicalities of integrating spiritual care into palliative care, almost revelatory.

Read the review

THAT GOOD NIGHT: Life and medicine in the eleventh hour

Sunita Puri
Viking (US), Constable (UK), 2019
320 pp, hardcover
Also available: eBook, audio download
ISBN 978-0735223318 (US) 978-1472131331 (UK)
RRP $US17.70 £20.00

This is one doctor’s reflections on the meaning and practice of palliative care. As I perused her well-written stories, I immediately felt at home. Her undergraduate training and early residency had little to do with palliative care — ‘The effort to extend life left no space for accepting death.’ And as a resident she admitted ‘…because we ourselves can’t face the fact of a patient dying without trying something, anything, to keep them alive.’ There are candid discussions about the decisional dilemmas she faced as a resident and later as a palliative care fellow.

Read the review

EUTHANASIA: Putting the Culture to Death?

Peter Kurti
Connor Court Publishing, 2018
75 pp, softcover
ISBN 978-1-925826-14-2
RRP $AU19.95 $US19.95 £9.50

This is the third volume of The Snowflake Chronicles published by Connor Court, dedicated to pushing the limits of political correctness. So-called progressive thinking limits free speech and limits the topics that may be discussed. They want to bring the discussion of topics like abortion and euthanasia back from extinction and allow contrarian views to be heard. Alleluia to that!

Read the review


Betty Rolling Ferrell and Judith A. Paice (eds.)
Oxford University Press, 2019
936 pp, hardcover
Also available: eBook
ISBN 978-0-19-086237-4
RRP $US129.95 £84.00

This fifth edition is fittingly dedicated to Nessa Coyle, an editor on all four previous editions. She is described as a clinical scholar and a leader in both the clinical and academic fields, which is where I have seen her for as long as I can remember.

If you work in palliative nursing, the Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care Nursing is the recommended reference. The information is comprehensive and well set out. There is adequate use of lists and tables, as well as a clear system of headings that makes specific information easy to find. Each chapter opens with a list of key points and it all seems well referenced.

Read the review


Roderick Duncan Macleod and Lieve Van den Block (eds.)
Springer, 2019
1,849 pp (2 volumes), hardcover
Also available: eBook
ISBN 978-3319777382
RRP €799.99 (publisher), $US899.99 (amazon.com), £649.99 (amazon.co.uk), $AU835.05 (amazon.com.au)

In the preface, the editors indicate their goal was to produce a comprehensive, clinically relevant, and state-of-the-art book aimed at advancing palliative care, as a science, a clinical practice, and an art. It emphasizes the multi- and interdisciplinarity of palliative care and sets out to cover all aspects of palliative care: physical, psychological, social, and existential, or spiritual.

Read the review

This list of this year’s notable books would not be complete without Dr. Woodruff’s own:

Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: Are they clinically necessary or desirable?

Dr. Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Press, 2019
169 pp; online & pdf
Free for anyone to read online
Free download for IAHPC members
Download for non-members: USD$14.95
Note: Access all three versions here.

Readers of the IAHPC Book Reviews section of the newsletter will know in advance Dr. Woodruff’s position on the topic. This is an opportunity to consider the many facets of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, reflect upon the issues revealed when it is put into practice, and, perhaps, solidify or change one’s own opinion.

Note for authors and publishers
If you wish to have your book reviewed, please send it to:

Dr. Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Bookshop Editor
210 Burgundy St, Suite 9
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

Roger Woodruff, MD (Australia)
Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime Member of the IAHPC Board and Past Chair. His bio may be found here.

NB: Review copies become the property of IAHPC and are not returned to the author. Only books related to palliative care that have been approved and have an ISBN will be reviewed. Due to the large number of requests, we cannot provide exact dates of when books will be reviewed.

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