The author suggests that "Death comes to all, not as a scourge or punishment, but as the culmination and fulfillment of life." Yet, man's contemplation of his own death is constricted by a complex of fears and anxieties, which the author attempts to analyze and, thereby dispel. In each chapter he sets up a specific fear for such analysis and tries to fit this into the pattern of human existence. A superficial review of these—fear of losing time; fear of decay; irreversibility and the unknown; fear of life and the pain of living; fear of loss of self and the cessation of thought; fear of loss of pleasure—presents an overview of all human life as a series of acts of frenetic or, in some cases, quiet desperation. In theory, knowledge should give the individual the power to extricate himself from these fears and his fear of death.
At best, however,