An informed and intimate account—accompanied by some disturbing photos—of one of the worst days in American history.

WATCHING THE WORLD CHANGE

THE STORIES BEHIND THE IMAGES OF 9/11

A photojournalist (formerly of Life, now Vanity Fair) examines the images of 9/11—from the iconic to the lesser-known—and discusses photography’s pervasive presence in that disaster and in contemporary culture.

Friend first tells the stories of those photographers, amateur and professional, who had cameras pointed at the World Trade Center on that crisp fall morning, then moves into a fascinating description of the use of photography in the aftermath. He talks about photos taken from an NYPD helicopter; the video of George W. Bush in that Florida classroom, as an aide whispered to him the news; the photos and X-rays used to identify victims’ remains; the proliferation of posters featuring the images of missing loved ones; efforts by galleries and museums to display artifacts and photos; the anger many felt when images of the catastrophe (and of Ground Zero) were sold for profit. He explores the efforts of the electronic media to cover the crisis. He discusses the possibility that a video of Osama bin Laden released just before the 2004 election helped Bush defeat John Kerry. He tells of people who claimed to see images of angels and devils in the clouds of smoke billowing from the buildings. Friend introduces a fireman’s widow who ate her meals looking at a large photograph of her husband positioned in a chair across the table. He examines the role of photography in the lead-up to and execution of the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, including Colin Powell’s presentation at the U.N., the “imbedded” photojournalists, the president’s “Top Gun moment” on the carrier Abraham Lincoln, Abu Ghraib and more. Friend ends with the complex story of what became a symbol of Ground Zero: the celebrated image of three firemen raising the American flag—à la Iwo Jima—in the rubble.

An informed and intimate account—accompanied by some disturbing photos—of one of the worst days in American history.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2006

ISBN: 0-374-29933-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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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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