Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America

by Eyal Press

Henry Holt and Co. | February 21, 2006 | Hardcover

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On October 23, 1998, the Buffalo abortion provider Barnett Slepian was killed by a sniper''s bullet fired through the kitchen window of his home. Days later, police informed another local doctor, Shalom Press, that they had received a threat warning that he was "next on the list." Within hours the Press household was under twenty-four-hour federal marshal protection. America''s violent struggle over abortion - which had already claimed the lives of five doctors and clinic workers - had come to Buffalo.
In Absolute Convictions, Eyal Press returns to his hometown seeking to understand how an issue many people thought was settled decades ago could inspire such rage. Press combines a retelling of his family''s experience with firsthand accounts of protesters arrested outside his father''s office, patients who braved the gauntlet of demonstrators, and politicians who attempted to appease both sides. Through the Press family and the city of Buffalo, a blue-collar town undergoing wrenching economic changes, we see, as never before, the people behind the absolute convictions that have divided our nation for the past three decades.
With remarkable sensitivity, Press has written both a gripping narrative account of a family and a city caught in the crossfire of moral fervor and individual rights, and an incisive history that offers new insight into the economic and social roots of America''s most volatile conflict.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 9.43 × 6.33 × 1.08 in

Published: February 21, 2006

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0805077316

ISBN - 13: 9780805077315

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– More About This Product –

Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America

by Eyal Press

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 9.43 × 6.33 × 1.08 in

Published: February 21, 2006

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0805077316

ISBN - 13: 9780805077315

Read from the Book

Naturally, I''ve thought often about why my father has persisted in doing something that so many other doctors in his line of work have for good reason given up. I''ve thought as well about what I would do in his shoes. My father insists his decision to remain an abortion provider is not a political act but a function of his professional responsibilities. But are those professional responsibilities worth risking his life for?
To know that one''s parents will not live forever--that they are mortal, like everyone else--is part of what it means to be an adult. To imagine they might be targeted by an assassin on account of a commitment to some abstract principle is quite another. Theoretically, such a thing ought to fill one with pride. But who among us would like to see a parent become a martyr?
In a way no abstract situation could, my father''s experience has forced me to think hard about the tension between remaining true to one''s convictions and
the practical necessity of surviving in the world. This is something that has always fascinated me, perhaps because, as Dr. Slepian''s murder would reveal, it touches on a rift within my family: between the defiant Israelis on one side, and those with a vivid memory of surviving the Holocaust on the other.

From the Publisher

On October 23, 1998, the Buffalo abortion provider Barnett Slepian was killed by a sniper''s bullet fired through the kitchen window of his home. Days later, police informed another local doctor, Shalom Press, that they had received a threat warning that he was "next on the list." Within hours the Press household was under twenty-four-hour federal marshal protection. America''s violent struggle over abortion - which had already claimed the lives of five doctors and clinic workers - had come to Buffalo.
In Absolute Convictions, Eyal Press returns to his hometown seeking to understand how an issue many people thought was settled decades ago could inspire such rage. Press combines a retelling of his family''s experience with firsthand accounts of protesters arrested outside his father''s office, patients who braved the gauntlet of demonstrators, and politicians who attempted to appease both sides. Through the Press family and the city of Buffalo, a blue-collar town undergoing wrenching economic changes, we see, as never before, the people behind the absolute convictions that have divided our nation for the past three decades.
With remarkable sensitivity, Press has written both a gripping narrative account of a family and a city caught in the crossfire of moral fervor and individual rights, and an incisive history that offers new insight into the economic and social roots of America''s most volatile conflict.

About the Author

Eyal Press is a journalist based in New York City. A regular contributor to
The Nation and The American Prospect, his articles have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Mother Jones. He was a finalist for the 2004 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award and has received the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Science-in-Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers and Editors, and an Open Society Institute fellowship.

Editorial Reviews

" Absolute Convictions is more than a family history or a personal reflection on how a movement framed around the right to life can lead to murder. It''s all that and more. While conveying respect for the depth of the convictions held by the pro-life movement without endorsing their methods or goals, Eyal Press has put a face on one of the most divisive issues of our day, offering a thoughtful analysis of the social and economic forces shaping our country, and particularly the city of Buffalo, from the earliest days of the pro-life movement until today." - Christine Todd Whitman , Former New Jersey Governor and Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and author of It''s My Party, Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America "This is recent history at its most powerful and its most moving. Press follows the fortunes of his beloved home town as it passes through good times and bad, through deindustrialization and blight, and, finally, as it descends into the angry futility of the anti-abortion movement. The costs and casualties of our cultural civil war are nowhere rendered as starkly." - Thomas Frank "Eyal Press has achieved a very difficult balance. He records his father''s and his hometown''s place in the searing debate over abortion with passion and, at the same time, a remarkable even-handedness. The action in his story is gripping, at times violent, and almost always personal, but he tells the story with analytical rigor and moral i
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