It is odd to call a book written by someone who knows they are dying uplifting and exhilarating. But such a book is Philip Gould's When I Die ... What makes this book exciting, challenging and rewarding is his deeply personal account of how courage overcame fear; how he found in the incoming of mortality a fresh and invigorating purpose in life ... Philip was always a great writer ... This is a book that will give you pleasure and peace -- Tony Blair New Statesman The book's power comes from the urgency and simplicity of the message ... At a time when few of us know how to face the inevitability of our own extinction, Gould has provided an admirable model -- Jenni Russell Sunday Times This was a brave man ... In the old days, they used to say the dead always send a gift back as they leave us, so we should watch out for it. That is what happened here -- Richard Holloway The Times, Book of the Week I read it in one sitting, and conclude that it should really be prescribed on the NHS. Even though it's a short and harrowing account of one man's dying, it also is the most life-enhancing book I've ever read -- Rachel Johnson The Lady In politics, as in life, purpose is all. Nobody understood that better than the late Labour strategist Philip Gould ... An extraordinarily moving book ... inspiring in its discussion of mortality; it is also a manual for those undertaking any task, political or otherwise, and trying to make sense of it to themselves and to others -- Matthew D'ancona Daily Telegraph
On 29 January 2008 Philip Gould was told he had cancer. He was stoical, and set about his treatment, determined to fight his illness. In the face of difficult decisions he sought always to understand the disease and the various medical options open to him, supported by his wife Gail and their two daughters, Georgia and Grace.
In 2010, after two hard years of chemotherapy and surgery, the tests came up clear - Philip appeared to have won the battle. But his work as a key strategist for the Labour party took its toll, and feeling ill six months later, he insisted on one extra, precautionary test, which told him that the cancer had returned. Thus began Philip's long, painful but ultimately optimistic journey towards death, during which time he began to appreciate and make sense of his life, his work and his relationships in a way he had never thought possible. He realized something that he had never heard articulated before: death need not be only negative or painful, it can be life-affirming and revelatory.
Written during the last few months of his life, When I Die describes the journey Philip took with his illness, leaving to us what he called his lessons from the death zone. This courageous, profoundly moving and inspiring work is as valuable a legacy to the world as anyone could wish to bestow - hugely uplifting, beautifully written with extraordinary insight.