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Things I’ve Learned From Dying (Book) Review

 
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Page Count: 273
 
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A unique look at death in its different forms, as told by a death row appeals lawyer and grieving son-in-law.

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It's a sad look at the hopelessness of a death sentence, from a decidedly anti-death sentence stance.


Final Fiendish Findings?

“Which is better: to be able to circle the date on a calendar five years from today when your life will end? Or to get flattened by a truck crossing the street and never see it coming?”

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Posted January 24, 2014 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

David R. Dow brings a unique look at death from his perspective both as a lawyer working with death row inmates, and as an individual grieving loved ones he’s lost.

Things I’ve Learned From Dying is an interesting book. At it’s heart, it is a memoir of a very difficult time in the life of the author, David R. Dow. As a death row appeals attorney, he faces mortality at every turn. He knows better than anyone that his clients are facing down imminent death, despite his best efforts at saving them. Difficult though it may be, he has learned somewhat to distance himself from it, while doing all that he can to increase their chances of winning appeal in any way necessary. It’s another thing entirely when it is his beloved family highlighting the indisputable fact that death comes for all of us.

Things I’ve Learned From Dying follows three very different paths to the grave, all of which were occurring in the same period in Dow’s life. There is his client, Waterman, a man who has undeniably done terrible things, and now faces the ultimate punishment for his youthful transgressions.  Though he has turned over a new leaf entirely during his time spent behind bars, and questions remain as to if his crime even fits the criteria for the death penalty, he and Dow’s appeals team are up against a tough road in the pro-execution state of Texas.

Dow’s father-in-law, Peter, faces down an entirely different kind of death sentence when he is diagnosed with incurable cancer. As an intellectual outdoorsman who had been looking forward to a long and fulfilling retirement, Peter’s life is turned upside down by the idea that he may not be around to enjoy it. While he favors rejecting treatment in favor of full enjoyment of however much time he has left, his wife and daughter steadfastly encourage him to prolong his life in any way possible, further adding to the tension.

As if all that isn’t enough, the family’s beloved dog Winona is suddenly struck ill. A major part of their lives for over a decade, the family does all they can to save her life without making her suffer – yet her illness baffles the vets, making treatment difficult. Three very different deaths – long scheduled, forewarned, and sudden. All affect Dow’s family through the years covered in the book, and he uses all he’s learned from them to offer insight into death in its many forms. “Which is better: to be able to circle the date on a calendar five years from today when your life will end? Or to get flattened by a truck crossing the street and never see it coming?”


Amy

 
U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)