Books by Peter Wyden

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 1, 2001

"An interesting if somewhat singleminded study."
The enduring pox of Hitlerism and the whole National Socialist disaster lives on, as documented here by Wyden's posthumous account. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 22, 1998

``My son has been ill for so long that he has . . . been touched by just about every fashion in contemporary mental treatments,'' says this informed, assertive father, who describes many of them in a personal chronicle of his psychotic son's painful life. Wyden, longtime magazine and book editor and author of some dozen books (Stella, 1992, etc.) admits to being somewhat obsessed with schizophrenia. His son Jeff, now 46, was diagnosed as schizophrenic 23 years ago, and in the ensuing years, Wyden has had professional contact with at least 50 psychiatrists. He sees himself as the manager of his son's managers, and it's a job this often exasperated man takes extremely seriously. Searching the history and current practice of psychiatry, he asserts that nobody knows precisely what schizophrenia is or how to diagnose it unambiguously, but he has made it his business to learn all he can about it and to follow closely the advances in its treatment. He describes Jeff's early experience with psychoanalysis (which even Freud rejected for psychosis), family therapy, megavitamins, and electroshock therapy, and his cycle of remissions and relapses. Into this disheartening story he weaves an enlightening account of how thinking about schizophrenia has evolved and how the disease is treated in other countries. The turning point, says Wyden, came in 1987 with the development of clozapine, a major new neuroleptic drug for schizophrenia. The breakthrough for Jeff, however, was the FDA's approval in late 1996 of Olanzapine, a safer, more effective antipsychotic drug that he began taking with good results in the spring of 1997. Although there is no expectation of a cure, Wyden ends on an optimistic note. In an afterword, Jeff, once an extremely charming young man and gifted writer, now living on welfare in a halfway house in California, speaks briefly for himself. An informative and moving, albeit discomforting, read. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 1, 1992

A chilling exploration of the moral complexities of survival in an insane world distinguishes this unusual and deeply disturbing Holocaust tale. Far from the stereotypical Nazi collaborator, Stella Goldschlag—blond, beautiful, and Jewish—first met Wyden (Wall, 1989, etc.) as a classmate (and pubescent fantasy figure) in 1930's Berlin. But while Wyden and his family managed to escape Germany in 1937, Stella remained trapped. After enduring forced factory labor, a precarious few months as a ``U-boat'' (an illegally subsisting Jew), and two rounds of Gestapo torture (punctuated by two escapes), she became a greifer (catcher), one of the desperate Jews who hoped—generally unsuccessfully—to save themselves and their families by helping to apprehend others. Relying on a wide-ranging mix of personal recollection, extensive interviews (including talks with Stella herself), psychological commentary, and published records, Wyden sketches a hypnotic portrait of his subject's world against its larger political context: the progressive loss of civil liberties; street violence; sudden deportations; suicides; concentration camps; daring escapes; refugee struggles; and disbelieving inaction by outside powers. At the ethically troubling center is Stella, responsible for as many as 2,300 deaths, stalking her prey at cafÇs, movies, the opera, resorts, and even funerals- -and, after three trials and ten years in Soviet labor camps, remarkable unrepentant. Hiding neither his horror nor his sense of connection, Wyden goes beyond the dismal facts to probe the limits of culpability when faced with ``the final choice: to die or join the devil.'' While this ultimately makes the book more intellectually than emotionally challenging, it heightens the universality of its theme—not nobility vs. evil, but the tragedy of ordinary people in a hopeless situation. A provocative and haunting work, worthy of the attention—and soul-searching—of a wide readership. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >
I REMEMBER by Dan Rather
NON-FICTION
Released: Oct. 1, 1991

An immensely appealing remembrance of things past from the anchor of CBS-TV's Evening News. A Texan and proud of it, Rather (who turns 60 next Halloween) grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Houston during the height of the Depression and WW II. His hard-working father was gainfully employed (no mean feat in those hard times) as a ditch digger for a local pipeline company. Consequently, the Rathers had money enough for life's necessities, albeit never in abundance. By the author's elegiac account—told with the help of veteran author Wyden (Wall: The Berlin Story, 1989, etc.)—the extended family also had true grit and love to spare. While paying graceful tribute to parents, relatives, friends, and other influences, Rather offers an episodic and anecdotal account of his formative years. In addition to the sympathetic adults who encouraged him to stay in school with glimpses of a wider world, he credits the instinctive independence of the Rather clan with putting him on the road to success. During the pre-TV era when young Dan was coming of age, newspapers and radio were the only media. Print and broadcast reports of epic battles in faraway places with strange-sounding names were the first source of Rather's youthful aspirations to become a foreign correspondent. The obvious misery of the jobless and dispossessed also appears to have given his outlook an endearingly populist spin. In the meantime, the author experienced the joys, sorrows, and occasional hard knocks (including a year in bed with rheumatic fever) of a boyhood that, if a bit too impoverished to qualify as idyllic, was at least marked by more highs than lows. A prominent American's vivid and sensitive recollections of his deep roots in a past that is now all but beyond recall. (Eight pages of b&w photographs—not seen.) Read full book review >