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Books, Journals, New Media
December 22/29, 1999

DeathThe Definition of Death: Contemporary Controversies

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999American Medical Association


edited by Stuart J. Youngner, Robert M. Arnold, and Renie Schapiro, 346 pp, $54, ISBN 0-8018-5985-9, Baltimore, Md, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

JAMA. 1999;282(24):2367-2368. doi:10.1001/jama.282.24.2367

This book is dangerous!

Beginning with its title and continuing through the multitude of closely reasoned, well-written essays, it lays the seeds of philosophical subversion, legal insurrection, medical sedition, and societal disruption. Which means that it is required reading for those who deal with death by brain criteria, so-called brain death—intensivists, bioethicists, chaplains, organ procurement personnel, and health care lawyers and policymakers.

When is a person dead—medically and legally? That answer is relatively simple: when a physician says he's dead. Then come the legal vagaries, religious beliefs, philosophical theories, societal needs, and personal values to complicate the issue.

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