A fine lesson in civics and political journalism and must reading for anyone contemplating working in electoral politics.

THE FIRSTS

THE INSIDE STORY OF THE WOMEN RESHAPING CONGRESS

The 2018 electoral cycle was a good one for women—well, at least some women, as New York Times reporter Steinhauer shows.

In the wake of the “blue wave” anti-Trump backlash of 2018, the largest number of women ever elected to Congress took the oath of office. Some of them have since become household names—e.g., Rashida Tlaib, a daughter of Palestinian immigrants who set off shock waves when she pledged about Trump that she was going to “impeach the motherfucker,” forcing an issue that the Democratic leadership had been trying to keep under wraps. The class of 2018 found 106 women in the House and 25 in the Senate, and of the 35 newcomers that year, all but one was a Democrat. As for the Republican women, Steinhauer writes, “their numbers in the House fell from twenty-three to thirteen, the biggest percentage drop ever and the lowest number overall in a generation.” There are numerous reasons for that fall, she ventures, including both revulsion among women for the sitting president and the lack of an effort among Republicans to recruit women to their cause. Instead, the Capitol now includes women such as Kyrsten Sinema, who immediately tested the Senate’s dress code by wearing a sleeveless outfit instead of the usual business suit. That example seems trivial compared to the weightier intentions of the incoming class, who, by Steinhauer’s reckoning, were fueled by Trump to run for Congress just as other Americans rushed to enlist in the service following 9/11, “as part of a larger national emergency response.” The analogy won’t please the likes of Joni Ernst and Martha McSally, but the larger point is that women hitherto excluded from the system—Arab Americans from Michigan, Native Americans from Kansas and New Mexico, African Americans and Latinas and members of other underserved populations—are now actively involved and pressing for accelerated reforms, to say nothing of the chance to influence the entrenched leadership.

A fine lesson in civics and political journalism and must reading for anyone contemplating working in electoral politics.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-999-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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