Good Life, Good Death
A memoir by Derek Humphry,
founder of the Hemlock Society,
author of Final Exit
Published November 2008
Downloadable eBook PDF: $8.00
344 pages 19 chapters with photos
See what the book is all about by viewing this sample ‘Good Life, Good Death’ excerpt PDF containing extract pages from the book including preface, introduction, and table of contents.
Born in England, brought up in a broken family during six years of war, Derek determined to become a writer despite a poor education. Starting as a newspaper messenger boy at 15, he worked his way up as a reporter to the London Daily Mail, the London Sunday Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Developing into an advocacy journalist, Derek wrote books on race relations, police corruption and a biography of Michael X. For ‘Because They’re Black’ he won the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize.
When the wife to whom he had been married for 22 years developed inoperable cancer, he nursed her for two years until she asked him to help her die. Close to the end, she chose to end her life with lethal drugs to avoid further suffering. In time, he married again and moved to America.
Derek published in 1978 a little book Jean’s Way describing Jean’s final years and his part in helping her to die peacefully. It became a bestseller and was translated into major languages. The public response to the book caused him to start the Hemlock Society USA in 1980 from his garage in Santa Monica. Hemlock’s purpose was to help people in similar situations as Jean’s and also to reform the laws to permit physician-assisted suicide.
Derek built Hemlock into a national organization, with 40,000 members and 80 chapters. In 1991 he wrote ‘Final Exit’ – a ‘how-to’ book for the dying to bring their suffering to an end if they chose – which became a #1 bestseller within six months. It was translated into 12 languages. Random House keeps the 3rd edition of ‘Final Exit’ in print in 2008, and it is still in print in Spanish and Italian. USA TODAY in 2007 chose it as one of the most significant books of the past 25 years.
‘Good Life, Good Death’ covers 78 years of an eventful life -- ranging from an unusual childhood in a broken home, a father in prison, a mother who ran away to Australia, then experiencing an ugly war which started when he was nine. The book relates his remarkable experiences in journalism, outstanding interviews with famous people, and his struggle against racism. Derek immigrated to the USA at age 48.
The second half of the book deals with his impact on the right to die movement in America, starting and building the Hemlock Society for 12 years, and pioneering the Oregon Death With Dignity Act (1994), the only such physician-assisted suicide law in North America. Derek is president of the Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization, chairman of the advisory board of the Final Exit Network (successor to the now defunct Hemlock), and an adviser to the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, of which he has been president.
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