Capably presented account of a complex legal case that would have been even more compelling if it were shorter.

LITTLE PINK HOUSE

A TRUE STORY OF DEFIANCE AND COURAGE

Investigative journalist Benedict (The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Eight Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America, 2007, etc.) explores the drama behind a controversial Supreme Court ruling on eminent domain.

In a country where home ownership is an unofficial article of faith, the prospect of the state seizing private property to make room for a highway or school is grudgingly tolerated at best. But Benedict’s painstaking reconstruction shows the city of New London, Conn., successfully pushing the definition of “public use” to new extremes by condemning a collection of small homes in a low-income neighborhood as a means of generating more tax dollars. Once reclaimed, this prime waterfront land would become a corporate campus for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The author brings his highly technical subject to life through the passion of his central characters: two women who scarcely met but spent years locked in conflict. Goliath was Claire Gaudiani, the sexy, charismatic and manipulative president of Connecticut College who also headed the New London Development Commission. She saw the state’s power of eminent domain as the perfect tool for refashioning New London into a “hip little city.” That kind of city, the residents of the doomed Fort Trumbull neighborhood bitterly concluded, had room only for “higher income people.” The David in this unfair fight was divorced nurse Susette Kelo, owner of the eponymous Little Pink House. After personally renovating her tumbledown historic home, she was deaf to all offers and threats, telling one reporter, “they can have my house when they take the keys out of my cold, dead hands.” Local politics, public relations wars, sit-ins, Congressional hearings and a 60 Minutes feature eventually propelled the case to the Supreme Court, where the homeowners lost. “The specter of condemnation [now] hangs over all property,” wrote Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her dramatic dissent from Kelo v. New London, which remains a highly controversial decision.

Capably presented account of a complex legal case that would have been even more compelling if it were shorter.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-50862-9

Page Count: 390

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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