A Short History of Falling

A Short History of Falling : Everything I Observed About Love Whilst Dying

3.81 (294 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
3.81 (294 ratings by Goodreads)

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 6-11 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


A Short History of Falling - like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and When Breath Becomes Air - is a searingly beautiful, profound and unforgettable memoir that finds light and even humour in the darkest of places.

Now with a Foreword by Joe's widow, Gill Hammond

We keep an old shoebox, Gill and I, nestled in a drawer in our room. It's filled with thirty-three birthday cards for our two young sons: one for every year I'll miss until they're twenty-one. I wrote them because, since the end of 2017, I've been living with - and dying from - motor neurone disease.

This book is about the process of saying goodbye. To my body, as I journey from unexpected clumsiness to a wheelchair that resembles a spacecraft, with rods and pads and dials and bleeps. To this world, as I play less of a part in it and find myself floating off into unlighted territory. To Gill, my wife. To Tom and Jimmy.

A Short History of Falling is about the sadness (and the anger, and the fear), but it's about what's beautiful too. It's about love and fatherhood, about the precious experience of observing my last moments with this body, surrounded by the people who matter most. It's about what it feels like to confront the fact that my family will persist through time with only a memory of me. In many ways, it has been the most amazing time of my life.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 129 x 198 x 18mm | 170g
  • Fourth Estate Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • Revised
  • 0008339945
  • 9780008339944
  • 848,928

Review quote

'it is Hammond's curiosity about death and his desire to report from the front line that makes this such a strangely invigorating read...his testimony deserves a place on the shelf beside When Breath Becomes Air and Late Fragments' Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love,The Times

'His voice is captivating, his observations are searing, and his book is a blessing. This book will inspire you even as it breaks your heart' Kathryn Mannix, author of With the End in Mind

'I loved this book, and read it in a day. It's surprising and uncommon and I don't think I'll ever forget it' Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways

'A Short History of Falling is a beautifully written reminder that life can be tragic as well as full of joy' Christie Watson, bestselling author of The Language of Kindness

'Touching and tragic. It is very hard to imagine how anyone could write so lyrically,dispassionately and persuasively of their imminent demise and its effect on those around them' James Le Fanu, author of Too Many Pills

'An inspirational, ultimately heartbreaking account of experiencing life as the nervous system fails, shared with courage and humour' Professor Stephen Westaby, author of Fragile Lives

'It's something of a cliche to call memoirs about a terminal illness life-affirming. But you will cherish everyone and everything you love, not to mention the capabilities of your own body, all the more dearly after reading this beautiful, devastating and stunningly written memoir' Caroline Sanderson, Bookseller Book of the Month
show more

About Joe Hammond

Joe Hammond was a critically acclaimed writer and playwright. He took part in the Royal Court Studio Writers' Group in 2012, having previously been mentored by the theatre and BBC. His debut London production 'Where the Mangrove Grows' played at Theatre503 in 2012 and was later published by Bloomsbury. His memoir, A Short History of Falling, chronicling the last days of his life, was published by 4th Estate in 2019 shortly before his death. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
show more

Rating details

294 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 28% (82)
4 35% (103)
3 27% (80)
2 10% (29)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X