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Bookmarked: Death with Dignity, Jack Earle, and Mao Zedong

Every day, new books arrive in the offices of Utne Reader. It would be impossible to review all of them, but a shame to leave many hidden on the shelves. In "Bookmarked," we link to excerpts from some of our favorites, hoping they'll inspire a trip to your local library or bookstore. Enjoy! 

 

 

Death With DignityOver the past 100 years, the average life expectancy in America has nearly doubled. While longevity is celebrated as an achievement, the longer people live, the more likely they are to succumb to chronic, terminal illness. At Liberty to Die (New York University Press, 2012) by Howard Ball dissects the battle for death with dignity in America and explores the pressing question: is it appropriate, legally and ethically, for a competent individual to have the liberty to decide how and when to die when faced with terminal illness? Read an excerpt taken from the book’s introduction.
 


 


 

The Long Shadow of Jack EarleIn The Long Shadows (Multicultural Publications, 2012), author Andrew Erlich tells the inspiring story of his uncle Jake Erlich, better known by his stage name Jack Earle. Read the story of Jake’s exceptional life overcoming crippling shyness, depression, temporary blindness and the physical challenges of an 8-foot-6-inch frame. Follow his lifetime of 46 years, and uncover the story of how Jake earned widespread acclaim for his multi-faceted artistry as a silent film star, sideshow performer with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, dancer, musician, painter, poet, photographer and sculptor whose work is in a permanent collection in the Museum of Natural History in New York. This excerpt on Jake's first encounter with a Eugenics rally is taken from Chapter 18, “Major General George Moseley, U.S. Army, Retired.”

  

Mao The Real StoryMao Zedong was one of the most important figures of the twentieth century and arguably the most important figure in the history of modern China. MAO: The Real Story (Simon & Schuster, 2012) by Alexander V. Pantsov and Steven I. Levine creates a detailed and revelatory portrait of a complex world leader. Pantsov and Levine show Mao’s relentless drive to succeed, vividly describing his growing role in the nascent Communist Party of China. They disclose startling facts about his personal life, particularly regarding his health and his lifelong serial affairs with young women. They portray him as the loyal Stalinist that he was, who never broke with the Soviet Union until after Stalin’s death. Learn how biographers depicted Mao as a romantic revolutionary in this excerpt taken from the introduction, “Myths and Realities.”