Sherwin B. Nuland, physician and author of the book "How We Die," died Monday at his home in Hamden, Conn., at age 83. He had been afflicted with prostate cancer, his daughter Amelia Nuland said.
An unsentimental and bracing look at death, "How We Die" won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1994. It sought to counter the idea of death with dignity, instead looking frankly at the systemic challenges and physical depredations of the dying. The book has sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide.
Nuland was born Shepsel Ber Nudelman in the Bronx on Dec. 8, 1930, the son of Jewish parents who had emigrated from Russia. He saw his mother die of colon cancer when he was 11 and grew up with a grandmother and father who were also ill.
He was an accomplished student who got his undergraduate degree at NYU and then left the city for Connecticut to attend Yale Medical School. He became a professor of surgery at Yale and was a surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital for 30 years.
After the success of "How We Die," Nuland left the practice of medicine to write full time. His other books include "The Wisdom of the Body" (1997), "The Doctors’ Plague" (2003) and "The Uncertain Art" (2008).