Important research impressively assembled.

REAGAN’S SECRET WAR

THE UNTOLD STORY OF HIS FIGHT TO SAVE THE WORLD FROM NUCLEAR DISASTER

A husband-and-wife writing team present persuasive evidence of Ronald Reagan’s decisive role in ending the Cold War.

The Andersons—who have already proven that Reagan wrote more gracefully than previously suspected (Reagan: A Life in Letters, 2003, etc.)—seek to dispel the notion that Reagan slept through his presidency, an “amiable dunce” fortunate to occupy the Oval Office while the Soviet Union imploded. Using memorandums of conversations, transcripts of summit meetings, letters, drafts and final versions of speeches, Reagan’s personal diary, press-conference transcripts and newly declassified National Security Council minutes, the authors demonstrate Reagan’s obsession, which predated his presidency, with the nuclear threat and his determination to do something about it. More tellingly, these documents prove that Reagan’s voice was the guiding intelligence behind his administration’s strategy for besting the Soviets. Oftentimes ignoring or overruling his advisors, even dismissing high-profile appointees—including Secretary of State Al Haig—who failed to implement his policy, Reagan strove to right the economy, bolster the military and, most controversially, push the idea of a Strategic Defense Initiative to persuade the Soviet Union that it could not possibly win an arms race with America. Although the Andersons allude to events that distracted Reagan—assassination attempt, re-election campaign, the Iran-Contra scandal—the focus remains on the president’s single-minded determination to fashion a world without nuclear weapons. Although their commentary occasionally lapses into cheerleading—Nancy Reagan’s repartee with Andrei Gromyko can hardly be described as “sophisticated”—the authors allow these remarkable documents to speak for themselves.

Important research impressively assembled.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-23861-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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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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