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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, August - I don’t normally listen to nonfiction, but if the first few chapters of Shocked are any indication, I may have to change my tune. Dr. David Casarett’s Shocked: Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead will naturally draw many comparisons to Mary Roach’s best-selling listener favorite, Stiff. Dr. Casarett is a hospice doctor, UPenn professor, and an expert in end-of-life care, and in this book, he takes us through all the techniques – new and old, ingenious and bizarre – used to keep people alive. While the topic is not just morbid, but morbidity itself, the author keeps the tone light, the pace quick, and the humor prevalent. David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, called it "heartbreaking," "hilarious," and "important." I’m sure the book will be in good hands with nonfiction narrator extraordinaire Walter Dixon (The Willpower Instinct, Spark), and I’m looking forward to listening to the whole thing. —Chris, Audible Editor
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Publisher's Summary

Not too long ago, there was no coming back from death. But now, with revolutionary medical advances, death has become just another serious complication. As a young medical student, Dr. David Casarett was inspired by the story of a two-year-old girl named Michelle Funk. Michelle fell into a creek and was underwater for over an hour. When she was found she wasn't breathing, and her pupils were fixed and dilated. That drowning should have been fatal. But after three hours of persistent work, a team of doctors and nurses was able to bring her back. It was a miracle. If Michelle could come back after three hours of being dead, what about 12 hours? Or 24? What would it take to revive someone who had been frozen for 1,000 years? And what does blurring the line between "life" and "death" mean for society?
In Shocked, Casarett chronicles his exploration of the cutting edge of resuscitation and reveals just how far science has come. He begins in the 18th century, when early attempts at resuscitation involved public displays of barrel rolling, horseback riding (sort of), and blowing smoke up the patient's various orifices. He then takes us inside a sophisticated cryonics facility in the Arizona desert, a darkroom full of hibernating lemurs in North Carolina, and a laboratory that puts mice into a state of suspended animation. The result is a spectacular tour of the bizarre world of doctors, engineers, animal biologists, and cryogenics enthusiasts trying to bring the recently dead back to life. Fascinating, thought-provoking, and (believe it or not) funny, Shocked is perfect for those looking for a prequel - and a sequel - to Mary Roach's Stiff, or for anyone who likes to ponder the ultimate questions of life and death.
©2014 David Casarett M.D. (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC
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Critic Reviews

"Shocked is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious. But more than that, it’s an important book that should force an urgent discussion of the hairline border between alive and dead, and the incredible ethical (and economic) questions we face as technology redraws that boundary." (David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Gillian on 06-24-16

Dead vs. Sincerely Dead

Who here hasn't had to take a CPR course? Aren't we in an age where we expect life to be extended? "Shocked" takes all of this and explores it one way, turns it on its head another.
This is part Mystery: hunting down early attempts at resuscitation with the Royal Humane Society, hibernation, how the wood frog manages to live (be dead?) in harsh northern winters, and miracles. It's also part Science Fiction: zombie dogs, suspended animation, cryonics, and decapitated heads in a warehouse.
Casarett pursues all avenues, delves into hands-on research with zeal and cheeky good humor. The most gruesome of experiments turns into a laugh out loud moment, tho' you may find yourself cringing, with your toes curling.
I have to admit that my attention did wander a bit when he got into in-depth explanations of the functioning of the heart, cells, mitochondria and such, even though he explains it so simply that even I could understand, but that's my failing and not his. For the most part, this is a truly interesting and entertaining book.
FAIR WARNING: While a lot of the advances in the science of resuscitation come from freak accidents people have, most of it comes from animal experimentation. If you're an animal lover, as I am, you might be appalled. But even I know that the meds I'm on have come at an animal's price. Still, if you're sensitive, this might be a book you want to skip.
But you'll be missing a lot. 'Cause this is a funny, enlightening, and engaging book, delivered with sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes deadpan tones.
By the way, you'll love the bit where he experiments on himself by being strapped chest down on a trotting horse... :)

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36 of 42 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Maureen on 07-08-16

Well Worth It

As a medical social worker for over 25 years I found this book informative and entertaining. I personally saw the sometimes devasting outcomes for patients and their families who opted for too much medical intervention with little understanding or appreciation for the likelihood of a less than positive outcome. As the author points out there have been remarkable advancements in medical care but all interventions are not always successful in every case. Personally, I loved the author's somewhat "sick" sense of humor but I suspect some listener's might be taken aback that anything dealing with death can have humor associated with it.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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