An enlightening, and precarious, experiment in the ways opposing cultures can merge and acquiesce.

EATING WITH THE ENEMY

HOW I WAGED PEACE WITH NORTH KOREA FROM MY BBQ SHACK IN HACKENSACK

International political relations are creatively managed by a New Jersey restaurant owner.

In his 1992 sworn testimony, the author admitted to POW/MIA Affairs attorney John McCreary that he simply wished to “make a difference…to become part of the solution” in initiating positive dialogue between himself and Vietnamese political powerhouses. As the street-smart son of a blue-collar disciplinarian, Egan eschewed college for roofing work, abused cocaine and became a general troublemaker. Early on he developed an intense interest in the Vietnam War, which ended before he could enlist. Incensed by the many soldiers who remained unaccounted for by war's end, Egan brazenly contacted the Vietnamese Embassy in 1979, intent on getting answers to the missing POWs. Two years later, he opened Cubby's, a roadside barbeque restaurant that eventually became a base camp for his international-relations meetings. Vietnamese diplomats began to dine there, exchanging ideas and comparing their communist structure to America's capitalism—much to the extreme dismay of Egan's father, who notified the FBI. Believing his peacekeeping mission was fizzling, he settled into work at the restaurant, expanded the menu and moved in with his girlfriend. More than ten years after opening Cubby's, North Korean representatives visited, eager to “work together.” Under the watchful eye of Feds assigned to Egan, he carefully befriended the North Koreans with New Jersey Nets tickets, catered Embassy lunches and fishing trips. Amid international political discord, a good-natured culture clash endured between Egan and North Korean deputy U.N. ambassador Han Song Ryol. While continually informing McCreary of developments, Egan and his new friends pondered nuclear-arms issues and rationalized governmental misinterpretations. The author also submitted to a truth serum-induced interrogation and endured a few nerve-wracking moments throughout both the Clinton and Bush regimes.

An enlightening, and precarious, experiment in the ways opposing cultures can merge and acquiesce.

Pub Date: April 27, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-312-57130-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

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

Did you like this book?

more