Terry Pratchett on shaking hands with Death

Two years ago, Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He is one of the most widely read and beloved novelists in the English-speaking world, having sold 65 million books, and earned a knighthood–Officership of the Order of the British Empire. So it is heartening that he is addressing two of the most heavily shrouded taboos: Alzheimer’s disease and assisted suicide–the latter he prefers to call “assisted death.”  

In 2007, Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, posterior cortical atrophy. Subsequently, he has donated $1 million to Alzheimer’s research, and helped produce a documentary on the disease. He has given more interviews than he ever used to in an effort to bring discussion of dementia into public. Recently, Pratchett was invited to give the Richard Dimbleby Lecture from the Royal College of Physicians in London to discuss advocacy not only for Alzheimer’s treatment, but his controversial stance on the most sensitive end-of-life issues. It’s a humane, touching presentation whose arguments cannot be dispensed by supporters or ignored by detractors.

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