A ground-level chronicle of the Ruth Messinger campaign in the New York City mayoral race of 1997. Mandery, a Manhattan attorney, is a newcomer to the often unlovely world of local politics. Despite ample opportunities to be appalled, however, he successfully avoids the role of an innocent recoiling from the corruption of democracy and focuses on reporting daily events. What he reveals is interesting, if not overly surprising. Quickly he learns that a campaign is not simply an extension of the candidate; the organization Mandery sees around him is a bureaucracy —filled with people who try to affect decisions based upon their own parochial view of the political world— rather than a seamless representation of one person. Moreover, the need (actual, not just perceived) to hire a political professional to run the campaign means the key political strategist is almost certainly someone with few if any ties to the candidate and little concern with issues. Mandery considers the results —laughable.— The most striking example comes from Messinger’s opponent, Rudy Giuliani, —a man who cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the public schools. . . [then] spent a plurality of his advertising dollars portraying himself as a friend of public education.” Yet Mandery admits his own candidate embraced no less astonishing positions. His conclusion in the aftermath of the election reflects both the volume’s weakness and its strength: —If there is a lesson to be learned . . . it is that it is not easy to draw meaningful lessons from campaigns.— True, that’s not a deeply satisfying bit of wisdom, but Mandery’s insight into the barely controlled chaos of electoral politics is the reason to read him; abstracting from day-to-day events might imply a greater level of coherence than the experience here warrants. Mandery successfully recreates the feeling of being in a campaign rather than providing a rational explanation of one. (12 illus., not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8133-6698-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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


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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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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