Valuable data for those seeking electoral reform in the age of hanging chads, gerrymandered districts and absent absentees.

DELIVER THE VOTE

A HISTORY OF ELECTION FRAUD, AN AMERICAN POLITICAL TRADITION--1742-2004

Still upset by the events of 2000 and 2004? It won’t cheer you to learn from this wide-ranging book that election-rigging is a time-honored American institution.

Political historian Campbell (Short of the Glory, 1998) admits to having been dismayed at the results of the 2000 presidential election. Yet, she writes, it was strange solace to know “that the process itself was deeply corrupted and had been so for over two hundred years.” The corruption she charts is satisfyingly varied in terms of both geography and levels of wrongdoing, from George Washington’s practice of buying votes to Boss Tweed and Richard Daley’s absolutist control over the ballot boxes of New York and Chicago to the dirty tricks of the Nixon era and beyond. Sometimes the corruption is of a forgivable nature, as when absentee ballots cast by Civil War soldiers were ignored lest they give the Union presidency to a Democratic peace candidate; other times it is simply sleazy, as when the president of the country’s leading manufacturer of voting machines promised to deliver the vote to Dubya lest the presidency go to a Democratic peace candidate. It is cold comfort to know that the sleaziest and most corrupt districts in the country lie in the South, and that they’ve been that way forever; Florida and Louisiana, it seems, can always be counted on to miscount the vote, and there’s even a verb among political insiders, “to plaquemine,” that honors (or dishonors) ever-corrupt Plaquemines Parish outside New Orleans. But there are plenty of Northern sinners, too, and Campbell does an evenhanded job of chronicling such things as the near-theft of the Wisconsin governorship in 1856—thwarted by a state Supreme Court that “displayed how an independent judiciary can play a vital constitutional role in overseeing contested elections”—and the curiosities of Ohio (and, for good measure, Ukraine) in 2004.

Valuable data for those seeking electoral reform in the age of hanging chads, gerrymandered districts and absent absentees.

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2005

ISBN: 0-7867-1591-X

Page Count: 448

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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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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