A lucid chronology of error, worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date.

SO WRONG FOR SO LONG

HOW THE PRESS, THE PUNDITS--AND THE PRESIDENT--FAILED ON IRAQ

As Keith Olbermann reminds us every weeknight, it’s been some 1,750 days and counting since George Bush crowed, “Mission accomplished!” Editor & Publisher editor Mitchell further rubs Bush’s nose in it, and commemorates other erroneous nabobs as well.

This book gathers some five years’ worth of Mitchell’s media-watchdog opinion pieces from that august journal, consistent in their opposition to the Iraq misadventure and prescient in their having assumed from the first that Bush would indeed invade: “…as early as October 7, 2002, Editor & Publisher…was opening one story with ‘As the United States prepares to invade Iraq…” Mitchell was one of the first to question New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s coziness with the administration and its claims through her of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s bunkers. He was also quick to criticize MSNBC news host Chris Matthews’s assertion, on that very day of Bush’s mission-accomplished declaration, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.” Matthews, one hopes, is reminded of that statement daily, and one hopes that the New York Times reporters who assured readers that the troops were coming home in May 2003 are reminded of their wrong call as well. The problem is one of complacency and complicity. Mitchell quotes Washington Post correspondent and Colin Powell biographer Karen DeYoung as having observed, quite rightly, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” True, Mitchell suggests, but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Visiting such points on the timeline as the Pat Tillman death-by-friendly-fire coverup, the Miller affair (and her subsequent buyout) and the suicides of several American soldiers in protest against corruption, Mitchell charts how disastrously wrongheaded the war has been from the start, and how numerous and various the wrongheaded have been.

A lucid chronology of error, worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date.

Pub Date: March 4, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4027-5657-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Union Square & Co.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2008

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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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