THIS SIDE OF PEACE

A PERSONAL ACCOUNT

The autobiography of perhaps the most visible Palestinian spokesperson after Yasir Arafat. Ashrawi was head of the English department of Birzeit University in the Israeli-occupied West Bank when she burst into popular consciousness in 1988 on Nightline. The brilliant, outspoken Ashrawi was labeled the star of that first-ever public debate between Palestinian leaders and Israeli officials. Here she writes at length about the roots of her more than two decades of political activism as a Palestinian and a feminist, and about life with her husband and two daughters. One of her goals, she says, is to add a human dimension to the simplistic image many people have of Palestinians. More riveting, however, are her insider's descriptions of the processes that have led to the current peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Her revelations of behind-the-scenes debates and political maneuvers are a must-read for anyone interested in Middle East politics. But this book must also be read for what it reveals between the lines. Superficially, Ashrawi seems like a sycophant of Arafat, and her uncritical attitude toward the PLO chairman appears to mar an otherwise uncompromisingly honest and believable book. But if Ashrawi never has an unkind word to say about the man, she is far less gentle toward some of his policies, including the PLO's costly refusal to condemn Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the PLO's tendency, as Israel cedes it some measure of authority in the territories, to fill positions on the basis of politics and favoritism rather than talent and expertise. Ashrawi sheds light on the tension between Palestinians inside and outside the territories that is crucial to understanding current and past events. Ashrawi offers a vivid rendering of the Palestinian side of events that have led to a vastly altered but still deeply troubled relationship between Israel and the Palestinian people. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 50,000; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80294-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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