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By David Casarett

“Casarett takes readers beyond death—and back—with tales ranging from a Japanese office worker who miraculously survived 24 days on a freezing mountain without food or water, to a two-year-old girl who fell into a stream and drowned, only to be revived hours after she ceased breathing. (She recovered completely, and recently got married.) Shocked is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious. But more than that, it is 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 NY Times Bestseller The Sports Gene


How the Strange Science of Resurrection is Changing the Way We Think About Life and Death

Not too long ago, when you were dead, you were dead. Really, truly dead. There was no coming back. But a little electricity, applied to the heart in just the right way, has changed all that. Now death has become just another serious complication that must be managed, and ‘dying’ more than once is not unusual.

A respected researcher and hospice physician who has cared for thousands of Shocked_comp1 PB Coverdying patients, Dr. David Casarett (Last Acts, Simon & Schuster; 2010) is intrigued by the idea that death can be reversed so easily. But he has also seen firsthand how resuscitation can leave his patients in a state—bedbound, unable to speak or recognize family members—that they never would have wanted. Is that a fair trade? For some people, it is. But Casarett’s patients usually don’t have a chance to make that choice.

In SHOCKED, Casarett embarks on a journey to find out how the new science of resuscitation is changing the way we think about life and death, and how we can make more careful, thoughtful choices about when it’s appropriate. His travels take him inside research laboratories at respected universities and a multi-million dollar cryonics facility in the Arizona desert, on late-night rides with paramedic crews, and to an impromptu meeting of a “back from the dead” club in a Pittsburgh bar. Along the way, he introduces us to scientists who are steadily extending the boundaries of what is possible, entrepreneurs who have placed a price tag on our desire for resurrection, and a wide assortment of patients and others whose lives have been changed—for better or for worse—by a little jolt of electricity.

Fascinating, thought-provoking, humorous, and a little unsettling, SHOCKED takes on questions of life and death with a light touch and a broad perspective. (Think: Bowling Alone meets Stiff). SHOCKED offers readers a unique view of the strange science of resurrection through the eyes of a hospice doctor who accepted long ago that death is—and perhaps should be—final.

“A fascinating, well-written, and gripping book by a leading physician that takes readers through the incredible journey of resuscitation science. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about the new medical ‘miracles’ that are helping humankind fight death and preserve life.”
-Sam Parnia, MD, author of Erasing Death

“If you think the line between life and death is a bright one well think again. In Shocked, end-of-life care expert David Casarett takes us on an informative, provocative, and useful tour of the state of the art in attempting to resuscitate the dead and bring them back to life. This is not the stuff of frozen heads, bright lights at the ends of tunnels, and bodies being cloned. It is a review of the best and sometimes worst of what real medicine has to offer and there is a no more lively, engaging, and sensible guide.”
-Art Caplan, author of Smart Mice, Not So Smart People

“Dr. Casarett writes from his heart and demystifies the art and science of resuscitation. His humor, poignancy, and intrigue make this book a must-read!”
-Kathy E. Magliato, MD, MBA, FACS, author of Heart Matters

“From the early days of CPR to the latest science on the cryogenic preservation of human life, Casarett takes us on an entertaining exploration into the void that separates life and death. Shocked is a great read.”
-David Dosa, MD, author of Making Rounds with Oscar

“Shocked is a compelling and fascinating account of the history, current practice, and hopes for the future of resuscitation. I enjoyed it immensely.”
-Mickey Eisenberg, MD, author of Life in the Balance

“Casarett accessibly reveals the work being done that may enable us to sleep far more, and so travel far further—in both place and time—than we ever dreamed.”
Publisher’s Weekly

“…his guide to the process of hauling passengers back up the exit ramp is fascinating…”
New York Times


Current/Penguin, US, Fall 2014


Finalist for the 2015 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize

Other Books by David Casarett