Natural Causes examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end—while still reveling in the lives that remain to us.
”…[A] provocative, informative, hilarious, and deeply moving book. A must read.”―Arlie Hochschild, New York Times bestselling author of Strangers in their Own Land
KIRKUS (STARRED Review)
“[Ehrenreich] urges that we recognize that death is natural, that we enjoy our lives while we can, and that we disabuse ourselves of any self-serving notions of post-mortem permanence or even influence. A powerful text that floods the mind with illumination—and with agonizing questions.”
“Claiming to be ‘old enough to die,’ feminist scholar Ehrenreich takes on the task of investigating America’s peculiar approach to aging, health, and wellness. She comes down hard on … the unending series of doctor’s visits, fads in wellness, and preventative-care … [with] sharp intelligence and graceful prose.”
“Ehrenreich, who holds a PhD in cellular immunology, offers a healthy dose of reformist philosophy combined with her trademark investigative journalism… [She] provides a contemplative vision of an active, engaged health care that goes far beyond the physical restraints of the body and into the realm of metaphysical possibilities.”
— Library Journal
“She follows her tough, contrarian bent to challenge our obsession with living longer by practicing mindfulness, following fitness gurus, and shunning French fries. In fact, a quick look at the cellular basis of aging shows that we’re pretty powerless.”
—Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Evicted
“Ehrenreich’s sharp and fearless take on mortality privileges joy over juice fasts and argues that, regardless of how many hours we spend in the gym, death wins out. An incisive, clear-eyed polemic, Natural Causes relaxes into the realization that the grim reaper is considerably less grim than a life spent in terror of a fate that awaits us all.”
—Arlie Hochschild, New York Times bestselling author of Strangers in their Own Land
"[A] provocative, informative, hilarious, and deeply moving book. A must read."
—Jessica Riskin, author of The Restless Clock
"'Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth,' promised Archimedes. In Natural Causes, Barbara Ehrenreich has achieved an Archimedean feat. Her lever is made of erudition, acuity and irreverence; her place to stand is the perspective of cultural criticism; and she has turned the current understanding of body and self upon its head. To read this book is a relief: at last, what needed to be said!"
—Jackson Lears, PhD, Editor in Chief of the Raritan Quarterly Review
"Barbara Ehrenreich is a singular voice of sanity amid our national obsession with wellness and longevity. She is deeply well-informed about contemporary medical practices and their shortcomings, but she wears her learning lightly. NATURAL CAUSES is a delightful as well as an enlightening read. No one who cares about living (or dying) well can afford to miss it."