The incredible amount of work that Schiffrin put into the selection of the articles and those who explain them makes this a...

GLOBAL MUCKRAKING

100 YEARS OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM FROM AROUND THE WORLD

This is no mere collection of exposés. It is a global look at the 20th-century writers who have dared to uncover stories of injustice and abuse.

Schiffrin (Media and Communications/Columbia Univ.; editor: Bad News: How America’s Business Press Missed the Story of the Century, 2011, etc.) literally dug through boxes of articles that disintegrated in her hands. Many of the included contributors suffered imprisonment or died at the hands of those they exposed. “This book is a collection of pieces that launched campaigns, exposed military atrocities, and called for justice for the downtrodden and the colonized,” writes the author. Each article includes an introduction and background information by carefully chosen journalists or activists well-informed and often deeply involved in the subject. The articles are especially noteworthy since the problems are indeed global, from the smallest villages in Africa to India, Colombia and New Zealand. Over the decades, a host of different writers have covered the same situations again and again. Schiffrin shows writings that span the entire 20th century, examining such situations as labor abuse, which has been evident in dozens of different locales across the world. Among the other topics are anti-colonialism, corruption, oil and mining, food shortages and famine, and military and police. What factors are required for these exposés to be effective? The author suggests that local interest and elite support is vital, as well as social movements pushing for reform; most importantly, wide media coverage brings the situation to the attention of the world. The collection begins with a 1904 article by E.D. Morel (introduced by Adam Hochschild), and other important contributors include Robin Hyde, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Alma Guillermoprieto and Christian Parenti.

The incredible amount of work that Schiffrin put into the selection of the articles and those who explain them makes this a top-notch anthology of significant journalism.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-973-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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

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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

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