Although Ehrenreich feels optimistic about the determination of Palestinians to resist, this visceral book, sorrowfully,...

THE WAY TO THE SPRING

LIFE AND DEATH IN PALESTINE

A devastating portrait of unending turbulence in Palestine.

From 2011 to 2014, journalist and novelist Ehrenreich (Ether, 2011, etc.) lived for several extended periods in the West Bank, observing, questioning, and interacting with residents. In a region inflamed by “intractable” oppression and violence, the author aims to tell stories “about resistance, and about people who resist. My concern is with what keeps people going when everything appears to be lost.” Acknowledging that objectivity is impossible, Ehrenreich hopes to achieve “something more modest…truth.” Revealing truth, though, is hardly a modest goal in a place where contested truths erupt in death and destruction. “There were greater and lesser sorrows,” writes the author, “but sorrow was a given. So was the pain of humiliation, the hard pride of refusal, a certain rage.” In Nabi Saleh, Hebron, Ramallah, and other towns, the author focuses on individuals engaged in protest and grass-roots resistance efforts against Israel’s “almost complete control over the Palestinian economy,” settlers’ determination to take over land, arbitrary rules and controls, and a pervasive atmosphere of fear. Israeli soldiers attack Palestinians with rubber bullets, Molotov cocktails, a fetid spray, and tear gas; settlers throw acid and urine; residents counter with bricks, stones, and rockets that the author characterizes as “unnerving” but, he insists, incapable of causing damage. Hebron struck the author as the most horrific: where it was normal to hear screams from soldiers’ beatings; where each day schoolchildren were fired on with tear gas; where people were arrested and detained as “a warning”; where streets were laden with “trash, bottles, bricks, and concrete blocks.” Ehrenreich has no faith in American-led peace talks and castigates Benjamin Netanyahu for “near-constant deception, insult, and bad faith” and for fomenting “fear and rage.”

Although Ehrenreich feels optimistic about the determination of Palestinians to resist, this visceral book, sorrowfully, portends no end to the horror.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59420-590-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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