STAY OF EXECUTION: A Sort of Memoir by Stewart Alsop


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In the summer of 1971, political columnist (now Newsweek) Alsop was given a twenty to one chance of surviving the next two years -- he was diagnosed as leukemic and became one of the Nos Morituri Brigade at the NIH. However there were many idiosyncrasies in his particular version of the disease as the white cell, platelet and hemoglobin count went up and down and many of the cells that appeared under the microscope were abnormal or, as one doctor put it, just ugly. Finally he was sent home by his young and apparently very able doctor to wait for the illness ""to declare itself"" -- it appears to be what is called ""smoldering"" leukemia which declares itself for better or worse. There have been periods of hope and remission; periods of fear (""What I dread most is getting very sick and dying"") and recrudescence. But Alsop gets away from it, and so does this account, and all kinds of people appear then and now -- from his cousin Alice Longworth to the Churchills, Randolph and a dinner with Winston, to a weekend in the present hunting quail at the Jock Whitneys to Kissinger who solicited a free opinion on his condition in Russia. And of course his wife, Tish, and his children, and the martinis and tennis games which go on from day to the questionable next one. The story is strictly personal -- never raising any larger questions than the ultimate one -- full of the things which have made his life enjoyable and death more acceptable. It is one of those books with a kind of skintight encroachment and immediacy you can't not read. January Literary Guild selection.

Pub Date: Dec. 10th, 1973
Publisher: Lippincott