A Very Short History of Death

February 17, 2015
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by Jason M. Breslow Digital Editor

Is there any such thing as a good death? It’s a question that got Christopher Woolf, the news editor and resident “history guy” at Public Radio International’s The World thinking.

The fact is, says Woolf, that in the course of human history, there might be no better time than the present to be alive. Consider that as recently as the 1860s, as many as one-in-four children born in the U.S. or the U.K. would die by their fifth birthday. Advances in science have dramatically improved mortality rates around the world, says Woolf, to the point that even in war-torn Syria, life-expectancy today is higher than in Victorian England.

That doesn’t make death any easier, but as he puts it in the below video, at least today “we have a better chance of growing old with the people we love.”


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