Books: Thing Called Life
● By Aimee Cormier
By Ray Saadi — Book Editor
By Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard, Henry Holt $30
Despite the title, Reagan was not killed by the assassin’s bullet that came within an inch of his heart. Incredibly, he joked about it saying to wife Nancy, “Honey, I forgot to duck.” Moments before, he said to the Secret Service agent who had saved his life that he hoped the doctors were Republicans, to which Dr. Giordano, a lifetime Democrat, tells Reagan “Mr. President, today we are all Republicans.” He survived John Hinckley’s assassination attempt and served out his full two terms as President of the United States. Since they couldn’t talk about his death, the authors gathered an enormous amount of details about Reagan’s entire life, so much so, it required extensive footnotes to get it all in and with O’Reilly’s flare for compelling language, it made for an informative and enjoyable read.
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR
By Paul Kalanithi, Random House $25
This slim memoir tells the enormously poignant and courageous story of a young man torn between a career as a writer or as a doctor like his father, brother and uncle. In a way, he chose both using his degrees in literature to help write about his years in med school as he advanced to become a neurosurgeon. Just as he reached the pinnacle of his life’s ambition, fate took a hand and at age 36, he was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Now with a wife and young child, he faces his future, looks death in the eye and determines what path his life should take, deciding to continue practicing medicine to the extent his health and doctors will permit. This is a wonderful story, beautifully told by Kalanithi with a heartwarming epilogue by his wife Lucy on his last days.
The Best of PETER FINNEY, Sportswriter
By Peter Finney, Jr., LSU Press $29.95
Back in the days of the Daily New Orleans States Item and Picayune newspapers, sports fans eagerly read the colorful writings of Peter Finney, the Legendary New Orleans Sportswriter. Now, we can enjoy again the best of them, collected by his son, including his description of Billy Cannon’s punt return to beat Ole Miss in 1959; Tom Dempsey’s 1970 record 63-yard field goal and, of course, the Saints Super Bowl victory. It’s sports nostalgia at its’ best.