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The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion Hardcover – April 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this stirring account of the 2009 murder of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, true crime veteran Singular (Unholy Messenger) presents a portrait not only of a man and his killer but of the national debate about abortion so rabid it led to murder. On Sunday, May 31, 2009, Scott Roeder walked into the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kans., and shot Tiller in the head. Tiller had been performing abortions—and most controversially, late-term abortions—at his women's health clinic since the 1970s, despite being the main target of many of the nation's most vitriolic pro-life groups. Roeder first became attracted to antitax fringe groups and drifted toward anti-abortion groups such as Operation Rescue, though after Tiller's murder none would outright condone his act. Though he claimed the "necessity defense"—that killing Tiller was necessary to prevent abortion—at trial, Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder. Singular, a Kansas native who also wrote about Wichita's infamous BTK killer, expertly folds in Tiller's life story and Roeder's steady decline with the blood-soaked history of the abortion debate, from Roe v. Wade to the recently passed health care reform. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Apr.)
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About the Author

Stephen Singular is a New York Times bestselling author and Edgar Award nominee. His book Talked to Death was made into the Oliver Stone film Talk Radio. Singular has appeared on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, Court TV, and Anderson Cooper 360.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312625057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312625054
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,189,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Haight on April 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Singular writes once again on the uncivil war that is dividing our nation. Whether a reader supports women's rights to choose or the rights of the unborn, the more important issue is not abortion but the manner our society is polarizing itself.

Abortion is not an issue which suggests compromise easily; either a fetus is born or it is not. Yet it is the increasingly shrill rhetoric that makes it so difficult to accommodate both the woman who does not want to bear a child and those who believe that fertilized ova are complete human lives.

The real message of this book is the way in which demagogues are dominating public discourse, building audiences and fortunes by appealing to their fans' fears. When media figures making millions inflame their listeners/readers/viewers with outrageous statements, reaching social consensus becomes impossible. Singular's book explores the ways in which fringe behaviors have become mainstream over the 25 years since the assassination of Alan Berg.

If you are concerned about the growth of violent hate speech in our culture, read this book! If you are only interested in stopping abortion and believe that your own concept of Divine law trumps civil law, you will probably be disappointed. Singular reports both sides, but in today's media that alone is suspect; considering the "other side" is frowned upon these days by those who echo their fans' prejudices.

Societies that can discuss, debate and ultimately reach a workable compromise are dynamic, vibrant ones; societies that are rigid in their intolerance generally speaking are on the decline. Which is the US to be in this century? The Wichita Divide, by taking a single tragic event and linking it through research to the undercurrents in our contemporary culture, offers a thoughtful guide to this important issue.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Warren M. Hern on April 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone who wishes to understand what it has been like to offer and provide abortion services in America during the past 38 years must read Stephen Singular's new book on the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita on May 31, 2009. It is a methodical and chilling account of the life of Scott Roeder, who stalked Dr. Tiller for a decade and who was involved with various right-wing groups and religious fanatics who advocated the use of lethal force to stop abortion. Singular documents Roeder's visits to Shelly Shannon, who shot Dr. Tiller in a 1993 assassination attempt, and the confluence of Roeder's psychopathology with the virulent anti-abortion ideology. Singular also describes Dr. Tiller's dedication to helping women and his emergence as one of the few physicians specializing in late abortion services. Both were consequences of his conscientious work as a physician continuing his late father's family practice. Through it all he had deep and strong links with a conservative, Christian, Republican community. In spite of the vicious attacks by Christian anti-abortion fanatics over decades, Dr. Tiller saw his devotion to the needs of his patients as part of his own service as a physician.

As a close friend and medical colleague of Dr. Tiller, I was in frequent contact with him for over 30 years at professional medical meetings, through frequent telephone calls, and visits with his family at his generous invitation. In Singular's book, I learned just how much more pain and harassment Dr. Tiller and his family suffered at the hands of his adversaries than even I had heard about from him, and I shuddered at the events leading up to my friend's cold-blooded assassination in his church foyer by Scott Roeder.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The complex and worrisome question of whether abortion involves ending a human life continues to cause us conflict. Whether such medical procedures are murder can be debated; whether Dr. George Tiller was murdered is undebatable. Tiller was murdered by Scott Roeder on 31 May 2009, and his death has affected anyone who has an opinion about legal abortion in the United States. The murder, the history and the issues behind it, and the effects afterwards are the subject of _The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion_ (St. Martin's Press) by journalist Stephen Singular. The author's first book was _Talked to Death_ which considered the murder of radio talk show host Alan Berg, who was gunned down by Neo-Nazis who disapproved of his liberal opinions. Singular figured that Tiller's murder would be a fitting sequel to his first book (he has written many in between), even though he writes, "After the Berg book, I never wanted to touch this subject again." There are plenty of murders that happen in America, but with seriousness and evenhandedness, Singular has summarized the numerous social forces at play in this one, and has produced a book that ought to be welcomed by anyone, on any side, interested in the abortion question.

George Tiller didn't set out to be a martyr, of course; he didn't even set out to do women's medicine, but took the role when he adopted his father's practice. He was not the most outspoken of abortion providers, but he did not keep quiet, and he was regarded as a hero to those who advocated abortion rights and as a mass murderer for those who opposed them. He was literally a target for protesters, and for harassment by Kansas politicians.
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