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YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN INNOCENT

Well-informed, scary, sobering, and sure to tick off police officers and prosecutors even as it contributes to keeping...

Building on his much-viewed YouTube video “Don’t Talk to the Police,” former criminal defense attorney and legal scholar Duane (Regent Univ. School of Law) offers a cogent, concise argument for keeping silent.

Why is it, asks the author, that public officials who are being questioned so often invoke their constitutional right not to self-incriminate? Because they know the law. More to the point, he suggests, they know the many ways in which all-too-human investigators can misinterpret and twist words—and that the system is fundamentally corrupt to begin with. Though the last bit may be cynical, Duane means it without hyperbole: on any given day, an American adult breaks three laws without even knowing that he or she has done so, very often as a result of unforeseen consequences of good intentions. “That is why,” Duane writes, “you cannot listen to your conscience when faced by a police officer and think, I have nothing to hide.” If the law is corrupt, then so are law enforcement officers, not necessarily out of evil intent but because they have quotas to fulfill, performance evaluations to meet, and so on—and because, increasingly, there’s an us-against-the-world mentality governing the precinct house. So what to do? Duane counsels common sense, noting that there are reasons and situations that call for cooperating with the police. If, however, there’s the remotest chance that suspicion will fall on you, he adds, then it’s a good idea to think Fifth (and Sixth) Amendment and to remember that, thanks to Antonin Scalia’s influence on the Supreme Court, it’s no longer possible to believe that “only guilty people would ever knowingly refuse to talk to the police,” even if the police and the courts seem to think so.

Well-informed, scary, sobering, and sure to tick off police officers and prosecutors even as it contributes to keeping innocent people out of jail.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5039-3339-2

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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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

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