Can These Bones Live?
The Anticipatory Corpse: Medicine, Power, and the Care of the Dying
by Jeffrey P. Bishop
University of Notre Dame Press, 2011
(410 pages, $35.00, paperback)
reviewed by Raymond Barfield
Jeffrey Bishop is a physician and a philosopher, and only someone who is both could have written this book. The Anticipatory Corpse is a diagnosis of medicine's malady, and unfortunately Dr. Bishop has some bad news for us: "There is something rotten at the heart of medicine" (22). Bad news about a disease can be hard to take, but it can also be a relief to see more clearly what is actually wrong, and this was certainly my experience of reading the book as a physician.
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Raymond Barfield is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Christian Philosophy at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he directs the Pediatric Quality of Life and Palliative Care Program, and a new Duke initiative called Theology, Medicine and Culture. He is the author of The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy (Cambridge University Press) and a forthcoming book of poetry called Life in the Blind Spot.
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