Books by George Feifer

DIVORCE by George Feifer
Released: Aug. 1, 1995

Dreary self-serving portraits of failed marriages and their messy ends. Feifer, whose last book was on the battle for Okinawa (Tennozan, 1992), sees parallels between military combat and divorce. Twice a survivor of divorcehis own and his parents'Feifer found dozens of fellow survivors willing, in fact eager, to share their memories of the experience. Twelve divorced women and twelve divorced men, plus one man currently going through a divorce, give their versions of what happened, and two children of divorced parents tell how they felt about it. Speakers range from the freshly divorced to those for whom it is ancient history, the working poor to the affluent, those whose marriages lasted only a few years to those married for decades, but all share a common theme of pain, grief, and anger. Mixed in with these unhappy stories are the points of view of various professionals: two marriage counselors, a social worker, a social demographer, two divorce lawyers, a law professor, two judges, and a divorce mediator. The lawyers seem mostly concerned with defending their profession, but the others take a broader view of divorce as a social problem. One judge recommends that the courts be turned to only after reconciliation, therapy, and mediation have been tried. Another cautions people to look for a family lawyer with the skills of a negotiator and mediator, one who ``makes peace instead of war.'' Feifer, who makes no claims to inclusiveness or authority, does not insert himself in these conversations except for an occasional question, but his introduction and his choice of voices makes it clear that he sees divorce as a destructive, adversarial process for which alternatives are available. Slow, tedious, and devoid of fresh insights. Read full book review >
Released: May 27, 1992

From Feifer (Our Motherland, 1974, etc.)—a fully considered, well-told account of perhaps the greatest land-sea-air engagement ever: the 1945 battle of Okinawa. Japan had lost the war by the time this ``Tennozan'' (decisive battle) was fought, but Japanese pride was still alive and the majestic, universally admired Yamato, the greatest capital ship of its time and symbol of Japanese aspiration, was still afloat. How the Yamato, as well as a quarter-million lives (more than half of them Okinawan civilians), was lost forms the core of Feifer's story. It opens with Hirohito making some remarks that are taken to mean that the Yamato must be risked; it ends with Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb. In between come B-29s, with their saturation bombing; the incineration of civilians and the decimation of an unspoiled, gracious, Okinawan culture appreciated for its generosity by both Japanese and Americans; and a samurai stand that was as incomprehensible to Americans then as Japanese industrial dominance is today. Feifer brings this epic to life largely through sharp, telling anecdotes and a remarkable ability to comprehend and express the ways and values of other cultures. He has researched particular Okinawans, Japanese, and Americans, from generals to civilians, and the details of their lives in this wartime hell make for powerful reading. The war, Feifer points out, would have gotten far worse if America had invaded Japan; so his pages, evoking the taste and smell of war, make the best possible case for Truman's decision to drop the Bomb. A thoughtful, humane, and readable history that brings the reader very close to this epic battle, the three cultures involved, and what it was like for the men and women who lived—or died- -through it. (Photographs—40 b&w, one color—not seen.) Read full book review >