Quigley’s narrative of Terrell and her court case is especially relevant in the wake of numerous well-publicized killings of...

JUST ANOTHER SOUTHERN TOWN

MARY CHURCH TERRELL AND THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL

A retelling of the events leading up to the landmark civil rights Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc., which invalidated segregated restaurants in the city in 1953.

The legal history of segregation in the United States is often bookended by two cases: Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the pernicious “separate but equal” precedent in 1896, and Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy and made state-sponsored segregation unconstitutional. However, as lawyer and journalist Quigley (The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, 2007) argues, the civil rights movement had other landmark cases and successes that created the momentum necessary for the Brown ruling. Among them is the case of Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954). In 1950, Terrell, an Oberlin-educated daughter of former slaves, was denied service at a popular Washington, D.C., cafeteria called Thompson’s Restaurant, only blocks away from the White House. The symbolism of the restaurant’s location was lost, however. Terrell, a lifelong activist and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women and founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, used her political clout to challenge the discriminatory practices of the restaurant. Quigley expertly analyzes the legal drama of the court case, which was not without complication or difficulty. (A judge initially dismissed charges against Thompson.) The author also smartly references the dissent and turmoil of the Supreme Court at the time, which had to deal with cases like Isserman and the trail of the Rosenbergs, to explore how the court unanimously voted in favor of Terrell, a clear signal that the age of segregation was unequivocally over.

Quigley’s narrative of Terrell and her court case is especially relevant in the wake of numerous well-publicized killings of black citizens by police officers and the latest wave of black activism.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-19-937151-8

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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