Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hand of God or Moyers on America

Hand of God: A Journey from Death to Life by the Abortion Doctor Who Changed His Mind

Author: Bernard N Nathanson

Dr. Nathanson's deeply personal memoir of what led a lifelong atheist and abortion crusader first to the pro-life cause, and finally to Christianity.

Publishers Weekly

During a period of roughly 20 years, Nathanson performed over 75,000 abortions. Since 1975, however, he has been among the leaders of the pro-life movement in the United States. Here, in a book that is part spiritual autobiography, part political campaign and part history of abortion, Nathanson explores the factors that led him into and eventually out of the abortion business. Nathanson recounts the moral hollowness and a paternalistic treatment of women and their bodies during his early years in medicine that allowed him to abort even his own child in a cold and antiseptic matter. However, the advent of ultrasound, and its images of the fetus as a developing life, along with a progressive conversion to Roman Catholicism, convinced Nathanson of the immorality of abortion and led him into a new phase of his life as a doctor. As revealing as this story is Nathanson's condescending tone and sententious sentences (e.g., "I will spare you the ineluctable Tolstoian observation, but I implore you to consider the psychological abyss that yawned beneath me") elicit very little sympathy either for Nathanson's plight or for the pro-life position. (May)

Kirkus Reviews

Autobiography combines with a battery of argument and data in this passionate account of the author's transition from pioneer of abortion rights to champion of the pro-life cause.

Ob/gyn Nathanson (New York Medical College; Aborting America, 1979) was co-founder in 1969 of the National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as the National Abortion Rights Action League) and the director of the first and largest abortion clinic in the US. He describes how he grew up in a "hate-filled household" in which his brilliant but autocratic father taught him to despise his mother and ridiculed the family's Jewish observances. Nathanson senior thwarted his son's desire to fight in WW II and in 1945 arranged his transition from Cornell to McGill Medical School, where our author was deeply impressed by Karl Stern. During his residency at New York's famous Woman's Hospital, Nathanson was horrified at the consequences of botched illegal abortions, and his efforts to change the laws took off in 1967. He describes the decriminalization campaign and how in 1971 he became director of the Women's Services Clinic, where over 120 abortions were being performed daily. Nathanson's doubts began when Ultrasound revealed the intimate life and development of the fetus for the first time. In 1985 he helped make the controversial film The Silent Scream, which shows a fetus being sucked out and dismembered during an actual abortion. He argues that, whether or not it feels pain or is deemed viable, the fetus is a distinct and developing human life. Nathanson excoriates violence against abortion clinics but warns that current legislation is cutting off legitimate dissent. He is clearly not at peace with his past, and he states that he is presently seeking admission to the Catholic Church.

This concrete and powerful contribution will be required reading for all involved in the abortion debate.

See also: Light on Life or Dr Yoga

Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times

Author: Bill Moyers

During the fifty years he has been variously a reporter, a political spokesperson, and a broadcaster, Bill Moyers has demonstrated a deep commitment to understanding the workings of our government and the role of the individual in society. His essays and commentaries, such as the recent “Shivers Down the Spine,” “A Time for Anger,” and “Journalism Under Fire,” are argued over and passed along as soon as they appear in print or on the Internet. Identifying what he sees as a political system increasingly at the mercy of a corporate ruling class, he urges a reengagement with the spirit of community that makes the work of democracy possible. Not only a trenchant critique of what is wrong, Moyers on America is also a call to arms for the progressive promise of the people of America, in whom his faith is strong.

Publishers Weekly

"I am a journalist but I am also a pilgrim," Moyers declares in this eloquent selection of his speeches and commentaries. Although these 20 pieces have been edited to resemble essays, their origin lends them a rousing urgency, as Moyers relates stories and insights in his personal journey from small-town Texas boyhood to eminent broadcast journalist. Whether he's extolling the virtues of participatory democracy based on the early 20th-century Progressive movement or lamenting recent evidence that democracy is on the auction block with politicians bought by special interests, Moyers's ability to communicate history, philosophy and personal experience simultaneously is impressive. His instinct for enlisting stories to get his message across appears throughout this collection, including tales from the years he worked for Lyndon Johnson (before and after Johnson became President). In a portrait of Johnson's political strengths and personal weaknesses, a less canny storyteller might leave out the telling anecdote about LBJ's integrating the Faculty Club of the University of Texas in 1964, but not Moyers. The same combination of candor, vividness and forthrightness animating his Johnson portrait is what gives such authority to Moyers's arguments that responsible journalism of unquestioned integrity is essential to our democratic process and that domination of news media by conglomerates, along with trends in celebrity-obsessed journalism, is undermining the freedom of the press. Moyers's wisdom, common sense and deeply felt principles should inspire and energize many readers in the very best way. (May 10) Forecast: A major media and advertising campaign should alert Moyers's huge audience to the unique appeal of this provocative yet always genial collection. New Press plans a 100,000-copy first printing, and publication coincides with Moyers's 70th birthday. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Patricia Moore - KLIATT

With three new chapters in the paperback edition, this collection of essays captures the passion of Bill Moyers as he looks at his country over the past 20 years. Moyers finds much to object to in the political trends in an America that seems to him to be increasingly dominated by corporate monies rather than by an active, informed electorate. Most of us are fairly familiar with the gentle, measured tones of Moyers' television style. Reading Moyers is a different experience. The reader may be startled by the aggressive, if not violent, force of his words, but will not put the book down without being challenged to be a more active American. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Random House, Anchor, 233p., Ages 15 to adult.

Library Journal

Moyers began his career in Texas writing for his hometown newspaper and then broadcasting for KTBC radio, a station owned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. After a significant interlude in politics helping organize the Peace Corps and serving as an assistant to President Johnson, he returned to broadcast journalism. This collection of speeches and commentaries highlights Moyers's love of America and hopes for democracy. Many of the essays are personal, such as the earliest piece from 1974, which recounts a weeklong road trip with his father on his 70th birthday (Moyers himself turned 70 this past June). The essay is no glorification of the good old days but a remembrance of the hardships of his father's life that ends with a positive note about the future. Moyers does not idealize America, either, but continues to exhort citizens to strive for a more perfect union. Public libraries and academic libraries with journalism programs should purchase this well-written collection. Judy Solberg, George Washington Univ. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Table of Contents:
Editor's note
Pt. 1America now1
This is your story : pass it on3
Which America will we be now?23
One year later26
War is war29
Crossing the Euphrates35
Pt. 2The soul of democracy37
The declaration in our times39
Many faiths, one nation47
The soul of democracy61
Democracy in peril68
Wearing the flag81
Pt. 3The media83
The making of a journalist85
Journalism and democracy99
Countering the bastard muses107
The fight of our lives123
Public access in peril127
Pt. 4Looking back151
Where the jackrabbits were153
Empty nest157
Second thoughts159
Good friend181

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