Of interest to students of the Iranian system as well as free-press advocates.

PRISONER

MY 544 DAYS IN AN IRANIAN PRISON—SOLITARY CONFINEMENT, A SHAM TRIAL, HIGH-STAKES DIPLOMACY, AND THE EXTRAORDINARY EFFORTS IT TOOK TO GET ME OUT

Washington Post opinion writer and CNN contributor Rezaian recounts his 544 days of imprisonment at the hands of the Iranian regime.

A native of Iran whose family had immigrated to the United States decades earlier, the author moved to Tehran to head the Washington Post bureau there. It was a good gig, well paid in dollars, while, because his wife was an Iranian citizen, they were allowed to pay in local currency. “Life was good,” he writes. Although he favored local-color stories, often about food, and guided Anthony Bourdain through the city for an episode of Parts Unknown (this book is published under Bourdain’s imprint), he still managed to fall afoul of the secret police. The charge eventually cooked up for him was definitively Orwellian: “As a member of the American press writing what could only be perceived as neutral stories about Iran, I was attempting to soften American public opinion toward the Islamic Republic”—a softening that would allow American values to circulate within the country. After developing strategies to avoid despair while in solitary confinement (“if you’re lucky you learn to quiet your mind, just a little, and live softly”), Rezaian could do little more than wait it out even as Iranian agents threatened to add time to his sentence because his mother was publicly protesting his imprisonment. “Why is your mother coordinating with the BBC to ruin your life?” asked one. The author credits a concerted campaign on the part of Post editor Martin Baron, his brother, and other intermediaries for his release after having been “the plaything of some of the nastiest authoritarian ideologues to roam the earth in many decades.” Rezaian also allows that one of his captors got at least one thing right: He correctly predicted the outcome of the 2016 election in the U.S., saying, “Trump is the candidate that hates Muslims most."

Of interest to students of the Iranian system as well as free-press advocates.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269157-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Anthony Bourdain/Ecco

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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