A disturbing but necessary book.

GREAT IS THE TRUTH

SECRECY, SCANDAL, AND THE QUEST FOR JUSTICE AT THE HORACE MANN SCHOOL

An investigative reporter sheds light on a shocking decadeslong sex scandal at a prestigious New York prep school.

Kamil was a proud Horace Mann graduate. For him and the friends he made at the school, it was “a unique, life-forging experience…[that] had made [them] who [they] were.” But when they reunited a few years after they graduated from college and began comparing notes about their experiences at Horace Mann, an unsettling pattern begin to emerge. Almost everyone in the group had endured some form of sexual harassment and/or abuse, including rape. At the time, no one thought to explore these stories further. But 20 years later, in the shadow of the 2011 Jerry Sandusky Penn State football sex scandal, Kamil realized that justice needed to be done. So he began reaching out to other Horace Mann graduates and eventually published an article called “Prep School Predators” in the New York Times Magazine on June 10, 2012. The piece received more than 1,000 online comments, many of which came from sex abuse survivors. Former students began demanding that Horace Mann take responsibility for the actions of the nearly two-dozen teachers implicated in a scandal that took place over more than 30 years. Despite credible testimonies, media exposure, and eventual legal action, the school, which boasted “some of the world’s richest alumni,” managed to settle with the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against it for “pennies on the dollar.” Although two members of the Horace Mann board of directors went on to form a charity to help survivors pay for therapy services, the school itself never fully acknowledged it was at fault and never pursued the independent investigation to bring closure to a painful episode. To Kamil’s credit, he never attacks his alma mater for its handling of the sex scandal, but he uses his narrative to bring truth out of darkness and let it prevail, just as it does in the words of Horace Mann’s school song.

A disturbing but necessary book.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-16662-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...

HOW DEMOCRACIES DIE

A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

more