A practicing surgeon for three decades, Sherwin Nuland witnessed life and death in every variety. Then he turned to writing, exploring what there is to people beyond just anatomy.

Why you should listen

Sherwin Nuland was a practicing surgeon for 30 years and treated more than 10,000 patients -- then became an author and speaker on topics no smaller than life and death, our minds, our morality, aging and the human spirit.

His 1994 book How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter demythologizes the process of dying. Through stories of real patients and his own family, he examines the seven most common causes of death: old age, cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, accidents, heart disease and stroke, and their effects. The book, one of more than a dozen he wrote, won the National Book Award, was a finalist for the Pultizer Prize, and spent 34 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Other books include How We Live, The Art of Aging: A Doctor's Prescription for Well-Being; and The Soul of Medicine: Tales from the Bedside.

What others say

“He’s delved deeply into his sense of wonder at the human body’s capacity to sustain life and to support our pursuits of order and meaning.” — National Public Radio

Sherwin Nuland’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Sherwin Nuland


Remembering Sherwin Nuland

March 6, 2014

[ted id=189] Surgeon, author and speaker Sherwin Nuland died on March 3, 2014, at age 83. The author of a dozen books — including the award-winning How We Die, a clear-eyed look at life’s last chapter — Nuland came to TED in 2001 to tell a story he’d never told before. The world-renowned surgeon, clinical […]

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The anatomy of a turning point, on TED Radio Hour

June 28, 2013

Your life’s turning point — whether it happens in an instant or is the culmination of gradual change — could occur tomorrow. Would you be ready for it? How would you reconcile your former self with the person you’ve become? In this week’s TED Radio Hour, we hear from TED speakers forever changed by major and […]

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The first TED Talk that made our content director cry

August 3, 2012

[ted id=189] What’s the first TED Talk that made director of content Kelly Stoetzel cry? In a new interview on the website Womenetics, Stoetzel reveals the first TED speaker who got her choked up — surgeon Sherwin Nuland, who spoke at TED2001. “[Nuland] made himself really vulnerable on the stage. He talked about something that […]

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