A profound meditation on a problem many of us will face; worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Atul Gawande’s...

THAT GOOD NIGHT

LIFE AND MEDICINE IN THE ELEVENTH HOUR

Doctors labor to cure disease and (recently) comfort the dying, but this moving memoir portrays a doctor practicing a new specialty that fills a gap between the two approaches.

Puri (Clinical Medicine/Univ. of Southern California), the medical director of palliative medicine at the Keck Hospital of USC and the USC Norris Cancer Hospital, hits the ground running with an impressive debut. The daughter of workaholic, immigrant physician parents who assumed she would follow in their footsteps, she acquiesced and dove into the field. During training, she thrilled to see her skills cure disease and relieve suffering, but she became increasingly disturbed when they didn’t. Repeatedly, she witnessed patients with devastating illnesses and little hope of cure made sicker by treatments the doctors themselves knew were futile. Patients and families usually encouraged this, in the belief that one must always “fight” disease; to do otherwise is to “give up.” Using often heart-rending examples, the author emphasizes that the best treatment of advanced cancer may not be more toxic chemotherapy. A victim of end-stage lung disease grows familiar with a respirator, but ultimately the lungs will fail to recover enough to breathe without it. Many patients live years bedridden with a respirator, their family praying for a miracle. A better alternative is to discuss what is happening and plan for a future where matters might not go as everyone hopes. Doctors hate doing this, so they discuss pros and cons, allowing the patient or family to choose. Thus, hearing that a treatment for metastatic breast cancer might prolong life for several months but also cause misery and harm, people usually choose treatment under the mistaken belief that treatment means “cure” and no treatment means abandonment. Called to assist, Puri recounts many painful exchanges, which, when successful, allow patients and those who love them to embrace a deeper understanding of their mortality.

A profound meditation on a problem many of us will face; worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (2014).

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2331-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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