BOOKS: THE BODY ECLECTIC

DR. SHERWIN B. NULAND, AUTHOR OF HOW WE DIE, IS BACK WITH AN AWE-INSPIRING ANATOMY LESSON

What happens during life's final moments was the subject of Sherwin B. Nuland's award-winning How We Die (1994). Now, in The Wisdom of the Body (Knopf; 395 pages; $26.95), Yale's distinguished surgeon and bioethicist presents a kind of prequel: an anatomy of human life, vividly illustrated by case histories from his wide operating-room experience. The result is a book--part basic textbook, part memoir and meditation--that is wholly secular yet sublimely uplifting. Although not religious in a formal sense, Nuland is overwhelmed with awe at how the human body works. As he writes, "We are, of necessity, miracles with flaws."

The basic...

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