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This Mortal Coil is a comprehensive study of how the ways we live affect the ways we die. It explains why we died in the past, the reasons we die now and how causes of death are about to profoundly change. This Mortal Coil is by turns fascinating, entertaining and hopeful.

Dementia, heart failure and cancer are now the leading causes of death in industrialised nations, where life expectancy in most of these countries is currently above 80. In contrast, 100 years ago life expectancy was about 50 and people died mainly from infectious diseases. Why are heart attacks, Alzheimer’s and cancer so prevalent now, and will they remain the leading causes of death? The total human population has never been higher, yet in most countries (with some notable exceptions), no one starves to death. Why not? This Mortal Coil will answer these questions and many more, as well as introducing many heroes, who fought against conventional understanding and conservatism to change the world for the better.

Rapid recent advances in DNA sequencing are revolutionising our understanding of human genetics, and the evolution and spread of disease-causing organisms. This Mortal Coil looks to the future, explaining how new medical advances are set to cure many present-day causes of death. These imminent advances indicate that we are on the threshold of increasing life expectancy in the developed world to 100. Now is the healthiest time ever to be alive.

This amazing story of human endeavour and progress is told with humour and verve. It is a story of great achievement, ingenuity and, provided that we do not wreck our planet, hope.