Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
This controversial book--not for the squeamish--deserves broad exposure. Avowing that ``stone-age ethics'' has beset ``space-age medicine,'' Kevorkian writes, ``The time has come to smash the last irrational and most fearsome taboo of planned death and thereby to open the floodgates of equally momentous benefit for humankind.'' He calls for acceptance of ``situation ethics'' to confront the ``ethical vacuum'' he sees as the present state of bioethics. In what for some readers may be a too-clinically descriptive, coldly analytic, and rational style, Kevorkian recounts the evolution of his thinking about capital punishment, organ harvesting, and human experimentation to ``medicide'' and ``obitiatry.'' Only late in the book does he fully detail his role in Janet Adkin's suicide in June 1990 that led to his being dubbed the ``suicide doctor.'' This is for all collections. See also Carlos Gomez's Regulating Death , reviewed above.--Ed.-- James Swanton, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Kevorkian gained notoriety last year when he performed the first publicly acknowledged ``physician-assisted suicide'' by helping Janet Adkins, a victim of Alzheimer's disease, take her own life. The method of death was the Mercitron, the ``suicide machine'' Kevorkian invented, which enables a person to self-administer a lethal injection. In this self-dramatizing, often strident manifesto he argues that ``medicide,'' his term for doctor-assisted suicide, is an ethical option that should be extended not only to the infirm or terminally ill, but also to inmates on death row. Condemned prisoners, he maintains, should, if they choose, be executed via general anesthesia, with the option of donating organs or having their intact bodies used for medical experimentation. Kevorkian's contention that the existence of his machine renders moral questions about euthanasia obsolete is simplistic. His book is likely to stir a hornet's nest of controversy. Photos. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
YA-- A thought-provoking book about the years Kevorkian spent campaigning for the use of organ donations from condemned prisoners and about the modes of capital punishment throughout history. Verbose in style, the book is not written as leisure reading for YAs, but it is valuable for students researching capital punishment. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
On June 4, 1990, Janet Adkins, who no longer wanted to live with Alzheimer's disease, hit the switch on Dr. Kevorkian's "suicide machine." She was pronounced dead six minutes later. Prescription: Medicide devotes only a few pages to this event, for its main theme is restructuring the death penalty so that a criminal's vital organs may be transplanted. The book actually opens with a graphic account of a typical current execution and brief descriptions of people who might have benefited from receiving the doomed criminal's organs. Kevorkian then describes his efforts during three decades to overcome the "enormous force of social, political, and historical inertia" on the issue he has made his own and clearly demonstrates that his plan does not necessitate the Nazi-like medical crimes that some fear. The ACLU, the AMA, and temporizing politicians come in for some battering during Kevorkian's argument, and in the telling chapter, "Stone-Age Ethics for Space-Age Medicine," Kevorkian neatly disposes of his colleagues' use of the Hippocratic oath in their refusals to become involved. His book should lead to further discussion and rethinking of ethical, medical, and legal attitudes. ~--William Beatty
Kirkus Book Review
Kevorkian, gadfly of the medical profession and inventor of the ``suicide machine,'' speaks his mind on the ethics of death. Its title notwithstanding, this is not primarily a discussion of euthanasia--or ``medicide,'' the author's term for euthanasia performed by professional medical personnel--but, rather, largely a defense of his position that death-row inmates should be given the option of execution by general anaesthesia, thus permitting use of their bodies for experimentation and harvesting of their organs. Since his days as a medical resident, Kevorkian has attempted to convince legislators, prison officials, and physicians of the value of this approach. However, the art of persuasion is not Kevorkian's forte; indeed, he seems unable to resist attacking and insulting those who disagree with him, referring to his medical colleagues as ``hypocritical oafs'' with a ``slipshod, knee-jerk'' approach to ethics. Those seeking a thoughtful discussion of euthanasia will not find it here, but Kevorkian does offer a revealing look at gruesome methods of execution. (Readers who have the stomach for it may be intrigued by his account of the many attempts to determine how long consciousness endures in severed heads.) Kevorkian concludes with a recounting of his development of the ``Mercitron'' (as he has named his suicide machine), his reasons for creating it, and his difficulties in promoting its use. A model bioethical code for medical exploitation of humans facing imminent and unavoidable death is included in the appendix. An angry doctor's rambling and repetitious harangue, certain to arouse the ire of the medical establishment.