Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber

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Free Press, 1997 - True Crime - 159 pages
4 Reviews
On June 24, 1993, David Gelernter opened a package that exploded, blowing off most of his right hand and damaging his hearing, eyesight, and chest. Ironically, the perpetrator, the technology-phobic "mad genius" we know as the Unabomber, managed to punish one of the very few people who are deeply skeptical about computers and openly critical of technology. Perhaps the greater irony is that the bomb meant to destroy a man's life remade it, and the wounds meant to break his spirit only strengthened it. Now, in this haunting memoir, Gelernter makes a metaphor of himself, seeing in his own near-death and recovery the same disfigurement and promise for American society as a whole. As he ponders his own spiritual condition and the healing power he found in family, religion, community, and art, he critiques the American soul and its devaluing of these very treasures. Instead of teaching and lauding the virtues of courage, critical thinking, and good judgment, Americans have made a media circus out of crime. We are so busy peeking pruriently into the twisted minds of madmen that we have forgotten the acts of violence are not significant because they tickle our bloodlust, but because they force us to rethink our priorities. In a power analysis of the media's response to his experience, for example, Gelernter points out that the Unabomber was described as a "genius, " as "sick, " as "fascinating, " but never as evil. Gelernter asks the chilling question: What does it mean when a culture no longer believes in evil? What happens to a society that has lost its ability to react morally in a crisis? After all, when a man is blown up by a bomb, we should question, not gawk; learn the deeper lessons, not bask in the lurid details. A gripping and poignant narrative as well as a thought-provoking analysis of our culture and where it's headed, Drawing Life is about the resurrection of an extremely thoughtful human being and the extraordinary power of one man's will to live.

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