Both sympathetic and fair-handed, a solid examination of the “Adversarial Supercouple” before the slide toward scandal and...

THE AGE OF CLINTON

AMERICA IN THE 1990S

A contextual reassessment of the Bill Clinton presidency.

Troy (History/McGill Univ.; Moynihan's Moment: America's Fight Against Zionism as Racism, 2012, etc.), who has written extensively about presidential politics, “seriously” reconsiders the era of the Clinton White House, apart from the media’s obsession with Bill’s and Hillary’s “character flaws.” Bill Clinton dominated the 1990s as Ronald Reagan dominated the 1980s, and in an extraordinarily complex decade that embraced the Internet and what Troy calls “virtual prosperity,” the Clintons were the first baby boomers in the White House to meld their 1960s sensibilities with the modern age. Clinton rode into power on the self-righteous reaction to the daunting domestic challenges that President George Bush preferred to ignore in favor of dealing with the end of the Cold War—namely, racism, sexism, and homophobia. The 1992 election was “a true generational culture clash,” writes the author, and the challenge that the Clintons took up successfully was presenting a program that combined “Wal-Mart populism and Ivy League progressivism.” Recovering from major stumbles during the first year of his presidency and benefiting from a steep learning curve, Clinton managed to build a stable policy foundation on “common ground,” such as a global economy and welfare reform, without expanding the reaches of government. Blessed with heavy-handed enemies who often self-destructed (Newt Gingrich), the Clintons effectively attacked their critics and recast themselves constantly—Bill as the “good father” and Hillary from vilified White House enforcer to the rehabilitated author of It Takes a Village (1996). With plenty of detail, Troy depicts the underlying tensions of this conflicted decade, from the Rodney King beating to the advent of the 24-hour Fox News Channel to the “manufactured miracles” of Silicon Valley.

Both sympathetic and fair-handed, a solid examination of the “Adversarial Supercouple” before the slide toward scandal and impeachment.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06372-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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