A sharply different deconstruction of the prevailing orthodoxy, worthy of attention.

GOING TO TEHRAN

WHY THE UNITED STATES MUST COME TO TERMS WITH THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

Leverett (International Affairs/Pennsylvania State Univ.; Inheriting Syria: Bashir's Trial by Fire, 2005) and his wife, Hillary, argue that, unless it changes, “the United States’ Iran policy is locked in a trajectory…that will ultimately lead to war.”

The authors take on what they identify as “a powerful mythology” that continues to influence U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic—primarily, the proposition that because it is unpopular, the regime “is in imminent danger of being overthrown.” They offer an alternative to the prevailing view that Khomeini and his supporters hijacked the liberal revolution that began in 1978 and “betrayed the aspirations of those who actually carried out the campaign that deposed the shah.” The Leveretts take issue with American policymakers who propose that the U.S. should advocate the overthrow of the present regime in favor of liberal democracy. They believe in the possibility of negotiating with the present regime. The authors dispute the view that the mullahs have done nothing for the population and lack support, showing how literacy, health and medical care have been upgraded and the economy developed. They highlight present concerns about the Iranian nuclear program, which they claim are exaggerated. They identify the continuing influence of the neoconservatives, who brought about the second Iraq war, and “liberal internationalists,” who are ready to deploy military force in support of human rights. They believe that the time has come for an initiative like Nixon's visit to Beijing to begin a change in course.

A sharply different deconstruction of the prevailing orthodoxy, worthy of attention.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9419-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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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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