Monday, October 06, 2008

From the Personal to the Political

One Family's Response to Terrorism by Susan Kerr van de Ven. Syracuse University Press.

The Warrior: A Mother's Story of a Son at War by Frances Richey. Viking.

When the political intrudes on personal lives, the response is often more than personal. That's the case with these two books, and there are many others.

When Malcolm Kerr, president of the American University of Beirut, was shot and killed, his family found itself involved in the twisted politics of Lebanon and beyond. One Family's Response to Terrorism by Kerr's daughter, Susan Kerr van de Ven is more about the politics and the world, as she researched the causes of her father's death. But she presents this information in the context of her own life, and her changing perceptions of her place in the world. This is an honest, detailed memoir that gains power as it goes, all the more impressive for the hard-won commitment to the rule of law that she affirms.

Frances Richey responded to her son Ben being deployed to Iraq in an intensely personal way that could be expressed only in verse. The Warrior traces her journey as a mother and a teacher dealing with her son's military training. "It was easy to think of warrior/as a yoga posture, until my son/became a Green Beret..." When Ben is deployed, she writes about his letters home and the inevitable memories of his childhood. These verses include ruminations on the world shaped by the political , but they always return to the personal, where the effects are felt, and the consequences come home.

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