Books by Natalie Robins

THE UNTOLD JOURNEY by Natalie Robins
Released: May 16, 2017

"An intriguing, occasionally overly detailed portrait of the life and times of the Trillings and the liberal circles of which they were a part."
The life and times of Diana Trilling (1905-1996), the wife and collaborator of celebrated literary critic Lionel Trilling and an important opinion-shaper in her own right. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 17, 2005

"Interesting as medical history, not so much as medical literature."
The rivalry between mainstream medicine and homeopathy, focusing on the quixotic endeavors of Royal Copeland, its standard-bearer in the US. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1995

An eye-opening look at the controversial and highly publicized death that led to major revisions in the punishing schedules that doctors-in-training once faced. Eighteen-year-old Libby Zion died on March 4, 1994, just hours after being brought to the emergency room of New York Hospital with a mystifying range of symptoms; the exact cause of her death has never been determined. Her father, combative journalist Sidney Zion, embarked on a 10-year campaignif not a vendettato bring New York Hospital and its doctors to justice. What happened in those few hours Libby spent in one of the country's leading medical centers? Robins (Alien Ink, 1992, etc.) does a masterful job of sorting through the complex maze of conflicting memories and opinions about Libby's strange symptoms, what they meant, and whether she received appropriate care. The author's thorough reporting reveals more than enough blame to go around and gives context to the unusual jury decision that apportioned responsibility equally between Libby and the defendants for her death. But the real culprit for Robins is what she calls medicine's dark secret, the ``closed order book'' system that gives relatively inexperienced, overworked residents and interns the primary responsibility for hospitalized patients, with little or no supervision. Robins's revelations here are important, indeed shocking; but she is most affecting in limning her portrait of gentle, bright, creative Libby. The underlying tragedy of Libby's death is the distance separating parents and children, and the self-delusion of Sidney Zion, who thought he knew his daughter (``She was my confidante . . . my buddy'') but failed to see that this teenager was drowning in a slough of despair, medicating herself with a medley of drugs that probably contributed to her death. Robins elucidates a human as well as a medical disaster in a page-turning read about life, death, justice, and responsibility. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: March 23, 1992

Richly researched broadside against the FBI's invasion of the rights of US writers to think for themselves; by the co-author of the Edgar-winning Savage Grace (1985). Aside from the 146 writers whose files were recovered from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act for use in this book, Robins lists even more whose files she did not get access to or who are not discussed here for lack of space. Files of living authors can be released only to the authors themselves, but Robins did write to many—such as Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, and Kay Boyle- -who had recovered their own files and who passed on to her their response to notes by FBI agents and informants. Judging from Robins's account, which covers the Bureau's snooping on writers and books—from John Reed and WW I through the recent campaign to access library rolls—the FBI seems full of idiots. As Murray Kempton says here: ``These files are so goddamn inept...You think of a lunatic sitting there and saying `off with their heads'—and there's no axe. I mean he presses this button and he says destroy this man's career and the career is not destroyed.'' As Robins reveals, the truth was that J. Edgar Hoover was leery of jabbing writers, who had such quick ways of fighting back in print—not that writers knew this, of course. Even the suggestion of FBI surveillance apparently had a chilling effect that dissuaded many from pursuing subjects sure to place them under even greater observation. Hoover, Robins says, ``tailored the meaning of the word alien to fit writer''—and ``most of the damage was invisible.'' Her story climaxes with the FBI's Library Awareness Program, which attempted to enlist librarians in informing on book borrowers—an act called by librarians ``an unconscionable invasion of the right of privacy....'' Noteworthy, but repetitive and rarely catching fire. Read full book review >