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What Is Life Worth?: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Fund and Its Effort to Compensate the Victims of September 11th Paperback – August 28, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
This is because there is not much in this book about the legal aspects of the Fund. For example, the statute passed by Congress is Feinberg's contant response to criticism about the "economic loss" criteria for awards, but he does not quote it or even use it in the appendix. I would also have liked to read more about how the Fund differed from past compensation funds that Feinberg had worked with, such as the Agent Orange fund. Finally, for a person with such great discretion over awards, I would have liked to hear about how that discretion was exercised in some difficult or unusual cases -- not just that it was used to narrow the range of total awards.
This criticism probably all comes from my legal background, and What is Life Worth? is not a book for lawyers. In place of the technical details is a measured and sympathetic description of the reaction of the victims' families to the 9/11 tragedy -- from a person who may have spend more time talking to more different families than anyone else. This is a very valuable contribution to the history of 9/11 from a unique perspective.
While the book is a quick read at 190 pages, its emotional weight is much greater and is really its focus. Perhaps Feinberg or one of his colleagues will one day write a more academic assessment of the Fund that will satisfy the desire to understand some of the day-to-day decisions that the administrators had to make.
In the days following the 9/11 murders, congress wrote and President Bush signed into law the victim compensation fund, giving monetary awards to anyone who was killed or injured at the Pentagon or World Trade Center. The fund was created to protect the US economy by encouraging a return to business as usual and discouraging litigation against industry. There had been nothing like it in US law before. Congress set no limit on the awards, the special master had sole responsible in administering the fund, and the amounts were largely unregulated. Mr. Feinberg, former counsel to Ted Kennedy in his role on the Senate Judiciary committee, interviewed with attorney general John Ashcroft who gave him the job.
I'll let the reader discover for himself the details given of the administration of the fund because that's not the heart of the book, its soul, although historians and legal professionals are repaid for reading it. The soul of the book is part of Mr. Feinberg's own. `What's a Life Worth?' refers both to Mr. Feinberg's account of his prosecution of the role of special master determining the dollar amount awarded for each death or injury and his unfavorable opinion of the law's precedent, and the reflection his work caused him to make on the nature of life in America and a person's role in it.Read more ›
The book is a relevant read for those interested in public policy and rationing. This is expecially important in healthcare, where costs are staggering and citizens seem to brush off personal good health responsibility in the comfort that Medicare/Medicaid/pooled risk will come to the rescue when needed. The rationing of the 9/11 Fund is a great analogue that reminds us that although the American people are compassionate and valiant, there are many unique circumstances where public aid just cannot fill the economic gap. i.e. we cannot feel entitled to an endless amount of compensation from public funds under certain circumstances.
Overall, this is a good read, which captures a moment in American history that should never be forgotten and whose victims were compensated with best judgement and maximum compassion.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I could only read a chapter at a time due to the weight of the subject. That said, I learned a tremendous amount by reading the book. Read morePublished 12 months ago by DMS
Ken Feinberg waded deep into America’s spent battlefields and industrial wastelands to help America pick up the pieces. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Ken Bingham
I enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read about the non-political response that Mr Feinberg took to administering the fund as well as learn about the challenges he faced. Read morePublished on April 27, 2014 by Brian
The thought process was interesting as it was applied to various stories of the victims and their families. Read morePublished on March 30, 2014 by Jack96
Read Kenneth Feinberg's "What Is Life Worth". He was the man in charge of the personal compensation fund to individuals, and determining the impossible task of deciding what each... Read morePublished on September 11, 2013 by Sue J
For anyone in the insurance claims business, this is a great read. When you boil it down, Kenneth is an adjuster....just on a massive scale. It was very interestingPublished on June 6, 2013 by PLee