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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The heart-wrenchingly honest new book about life and death from forensic pathologist and best-selling author of Unnatural Causes, Dr Richard Shepherd.

This book is about death, but in it I will take listeners on a journey through life....

What can death teach us about life? 

Conducting many thousands of post-mortems has given Dr Richard Shepherd the opportunity to examine death at every stage of life. Each autopsy is its own unique investigation, providing evidence of how, through life, the risks to us ebb and flow. From old to young, from murder to misadventure and from illness to accidental death, each body has taught him something: about human development, about mortality, about its owner's life story, about justice and even about himself. 

From the best-selling author of Unnatural Causes comes a powerful, moving, endlessly fascinating and, above all, reassuring book about death as it touches our own lives - how to understand it, how best to postpone it, and, when our time comes (as it must come), how to embrace it, as the last great adventure on our journey through life.

©2021 Dr Richard Shepherd (P)2021 Penguin Audio

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Excellent

Loved it, finished it in two sittings. Dr Shepherd has the ability to intertwine scientific facts and personal anecdotes to create a context for every case and story. Just like his first book, I'm struck by his respect and understanding of both the dead and the living, his honesty is admirable. Highly recommend this book for anyone interested in forensics, anatomy or medicin in any way. To be honest, I think everyone could benefit from it. I sincerely hope this won't be his last book

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A gloomy book, but impossible to put down

The experience of listening to this audiobook was a strange one. The first book by Richard Shepherd was released approx. 3 years ago. That first book was more of a biography threaded through strange or controversial cases worked on by this pathologist. This second book offers more in-depth discussion on other cases centered around accidents, murders, loneliness, suicide, and natural deaths across the young and more mature generations. This time, biographical aspects are more limited, while the coverage of poignant, peculiar, or baffling cases is more fluid and sometimes relentless.

After long periods of lock down loneliness or overwhelming stress, this may be a difficult book for many people to entertain.
Dr Shepherd’s narration and examination of thought-provoking cases creates a gloomy ambiance which is firmly buoyed by a detailed examination of the events that occur at cellular level in tissues, and major organs when the body ebbs with the stresses of age, disease or injury. It really can make one feel very vulnerable. The book will strike chords with those readers who become immersed in it.

You will gain fascinating insights on aging and disease and human brutality. There are reminiscences of deaths that could have been avoided if the deceased, or relatives of the deceased, had trusted the medical profession to a greater extent. Had I not trusted a team of oncologists when I was 15 years of age, I would not have reached 16 years of age, so these ruminations on those particular cases made me feel particularly melancholic. I met Dr Shepherd at one his talks in Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of 2019, less than a year after the release of his first book. I am glad that I was able to spend a few mins with him and sit listening in a tightly packed, warm and eager audience that was prepared to devour the conversation. Great book but reflect on your state of mind prior to embarking on it. It may not be suitable for people who are depressed or feeling anxious. Note that this is my personal opinion and is not connected to my employment or employer.

11 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

Full of intriguing cases and interesting facts about the body in health and disease. Also reassuring that modern forensic techniques and the skills of pathologists can stop miscarriages of justice. The author is very frank about his own health troubles and honest over how he doesn't always follow health guidelines.
I have to take issue with him over his assertion that obesity is protective against breast cancer: the exact opposite it the case. Adipose tissue is a source of oestrogen one of the risk factors for breast cancer so the more obese a person is the greater the risk. Another thing he said is that most of the DNA molecule is redundant. I'm just a bit older than the author so studied biochemistry at university in the same era and indeed that view of DNA was the one in the 1970s, however, subsequent research and vastly improved techniques have revealed that far from redundant those part of the molecule are now recognized as sophisticated control signals to turn other parts on and off and are important in the synchronization of developmental changes and, when faulty, play a part in cancers.

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A must read

An excellent book and really is a must read. Informative, interesting and I will problem listen to it again.

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Amazing and scary

Eye opener on the life, our choices and how they turn into consequences. I loved it - might have just scared me healthy!

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An excellent listen.

I love human biology and the workings of the body. This book ticked every box I need. It’s got great details about everything! I thought Richard narrating was going to be boring at first, but it’s not. He’s clinical but also quite ‘feeling’ in a way too. I like the excerpts from his life which fit neatly into the book. Great, and sad to finish.

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Book of many interesting facts

Love the way the story intertwines and weaves in engaging facts about death and life.

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love Dr Shepherd

interesting and enthralling, could listen to his stories all day. comes across as a very personable man.

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Mind opening

Really enjoyed this book full of superb interesting facts you would not know unless you have read this book

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A wonderful book

Fascinating, detailed and informative, this book speaks movingly and compassionately about the work of a forensic pathologist.

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  • Eda Pogany
  • 01-07-22

A beautiful book we all should read/listen to

This is one of the best written books about forensic pathology, scientifically well grounded whilst very human indeed, explaining the inevitable end in a friendly, professional way, allowing a glimpse into the author’s own life as a pathologist, husband, father - a caring human being. Very well written and read, I enjoyed every moment. Thank you Dr. Shepherd!

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  • Nicky Brouwer
  • 21-01-22

A great read!

Brilliantly narrated by the author. A pleasure to listen. I was engrossed in the different scenarios he was explaining here. A world I know very little about. Well recommended and thoroughly enjoyable.