An eloquent attempt to clarify the abortion and euthanasia debates by seeking to articulate and analyze the unspoken assumptions underlying them. To Dworkin (Law/NYU and Jurisprudence/Oxford; A Matter of Principle, 1985), the view of many antiabortion proponents—that a fetus is ``a helpless unborn child with rights and interests of its own from the moment of conception''—is absurd and untenable. Dworkin goes further: He argues that ``very few people...actually believe that, whatever they say.'' Instead, he contends that most people who oppose abortion do so not because they view a fetus as a person but because they believe that a human life has a ``sacred'' quality when its biological life begins. The author uses this distinction to explain the contradictory feelings (as reflected in polls) that many have about abortion: Most people, Dworkin reports, feel that although abortion is sometimes justifiable, it's ``a kind of cosmic shame when human life at any stage is deliberately extinguished.'' The author expands this insight into a wide-ranging constitutional argument: ``that because opinions about abortion rest on differing interpretations of a shared belief in the sanctity of human life, they are themselves essentially religious beliefs.'' Thus, he argues, prohibitions of abortion amount to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. This dovetails with his rejection of the ``originalism'' espoused by conservative legal scholars: Dworkin argues that the Bill of Rights was intended not as a rigid system of limited rules but as an invitation to reinterpretation by successive generation of judges. The author also applies his analysis to euthanasia in cases of terminal illness and debilitating disease, arguing—without resolving the issues presented—that each person's particular reasons for living will determine his or her point of view on this question. Dworkin won't convince ``pro-lifers'' or advocates of strict constitutional construction. Nonetheless: an original contribution to the abortion debate, as well as a stimulating discussion of our contradictory feelings about the meaning of human life.

Pub Date: May 19, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-58941-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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