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Weschler, Lawrence Calamities of Exile

ISBN 13: 9780226893921

Calamities of Exile

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9780226893921: Calamities of Exile
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From the author of Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Calamities of Exile combines three gripping narratives that afford a sort of double CAT scan into the natures of both modern totalitarianism and timeless exile.

"Beautiful but harrowing chronicles of three exiles that probe the moral and personal risks of their encounters with totalitarianism. . . . Piercing and timely."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Weschler . . . combines a novelist's gift for drama with the objectivity and research skills of a journalist. . . . The result is three gripping profiles of very human but also extraordinary men."—Publishers Weekly

"[Weschler's] thorough accounting of the men's covert operations, assumed identities and strained relationships with fathers, wives, and colleagues creates a disturbing triptych of the perils of totalitarianism."—Lance Gould, New York Times Book Review

"Weschler tells these three tragic tales with an admirable combination of psychological penetration, intellectual thrust, concision and compassion."—Francis King, Spectator

"Endlessly absorbing. . . . Breathtaking."—Jeri Laber, Los Angeles Times Book Review

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The three essays in this volume, each long enough to be referred to as a nonfiction novella, originally appeared in the New Yorker, where Weschler is a staff writer. They engage directly with the theme of political exile by delving into the lives of three exiles: South African author Breyten Breytenbach, who would attempt to reenter the country to participate more actively in the struggle against apartheid, only to be captured and imprisoned; Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi whose Republic of Fear offered many Westerners their first in-depth knowledge of Saddam Hussein's regime; and Jan Karan, a participant in the 1968 revolution in Prague who, after years of running a smuggling operation in and out of Czechoslovakia, would return to his liberated homeland only to be denounced for alleged collaboration with its Communist oppressors.

Lawrence Weschler is one of the late 20th century's best journalists, a master of the profile format. He offers the reader tremendous amounts of information, including extensive historical backgrounds, without ever sacrificing any of his prose's immediacy or clarity. Given that his three subjects have each fought against oppressive regimes, it would be easy to portray them as simplistic heroes, but Weschler takes great pains to show the full complexities of their characters, even when it casts them in a less than flattering light. By reading Calamities of Exile, you will learn much about international politics, but, more importantly, you will learn much about people. --Ron Hogan

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Lawrence Weschler is a staff writer at the New Yorker.

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9780226893938: Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas

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Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 1996
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