MAKE A DIFFERENCE

THE FOUNDER OF THE ``I HAVE A FUTURE PROGRAM,'' SHARES HIS VISION FOR YOUNG AMERICA

A reserved, rather sketchy autobiography by the man whose nomination to succeed Joycelyn Elders as surgeon general was defeated in 1995. Foster keeps his emotions well in check while describing his childhood as a middle-class, achievement-oriented black youth in the segregated South of the 1930s and '40s, and his experiences as a medical student at the virtually all-white University of Arkansas in the 1950s. After completing his residency, Foster moved rapidly up the career ladder, becoming chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Tuskegee Institute's hospital, the center of medical care for Alabama's poor black population. His innovative tiered system of health care services based on outreach clinics soon became the model for other states and led to Foster's election to the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine, where he was asked to study the health effects of legalized abortion. He was later tapped by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to direct a project on how to consolidate health services for high-risk adolescents, which led eventually to his ``I Have a Future'' program, based in Nashville's public housing projects. Clearly a public-spirited citizen and compassionate physician, Foster recounts his professional accomplishments with quiet pride, but his personal life remains pretty much a closed book. In his later chapters, however, the man himself finally becomes visible. When his nomination as surgeon general ran into opposition from antiabortion forces, the inexplicably naive Foster received a bruising education in politics, and he's still stinging from it. He hasn't given up wanting to make a difference, however. As President Clinton's senior advisor for teen pregnancy and youth issues, he concludes here with a candid assessment of the country's public health needs and a ``domestic medical Marshall Plan'' to deal with them. A rich, full life that deserves a more complete telling. (Author tour; radio satellite tour)

Pub Date: June 16, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-82685-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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