How will we die? A 'death with dignity' - a few murmured farewells and then exit 'gentle into that good night'? or in the lights flashing, siren wailing, chest pumping, electricity-sparking maelstrom of the ER? Over the last forty years, CPR has become the medical, legal and media standard for behaviour in the face of sudden death. Given its disappointing survival rates, this book explores the reasons why CPR continues to hold a prominent place in the medical armoury and why it has become a powerful icon within popular culture. The key therapeutic techniques of CPR: mouth-to-mouth ventilation, external-cardiac-compression and defibrillation, are the component parts of a modern deathbed ritual, central to our concepts of life, death and humanity. The stubborn elision of protocol and ritual, and the confounding of the performance of CPR on the street and on the screen, are manoevres in unleashing a violent but necessary confrontation with modern death.

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