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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

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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]

Kenneth R. Feinberg
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When Feinberg writes that "[t]he cacophony of arguments validated my original preference: to refuse to evaluate individual suffering" midway through this frank memoir, the reader already trusts him enough to know that he is not being crass or unfeeling: he is being honest. By then, Feinberg, a lawyer who has been on two presidential commissions and has done Agent Orange litigation, has established his judicious forthrightness and his dedication to "the success of the fund"—getting as many families as possible to opt in to the trust, which he headed and which was established to award cash to the 9/11 victims, rather than sue the government. The problem: how, and how much? Feinberg's willingness to put himself into the book makes what could have been an alternately dry and self-serving case study crackle with care, frustration, intellectual energy and good writing. Feinberg and his team ran through every argument and counterargument for compensation and its various possible permutations, and he presents the debate, and his ultimate conclusions as head of the 9/11 fund, with an earned conviction and clarity, even on stat-heavy pages. With its combination of a strong personality, undeniably compelling subject matter and a great title, this understated, passionate trek into the dismal terrain is likely to be a major surprise bestseller. Anything but macabre, it ends up, in its own way, celebrating life. (June 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Feinberg's experience as an attorney and a mediator, having mediated the suit between Vietnam vets and manufacturers of Agent Orange, made him uniquely qualified to handle the delicate task of compensating families victimized by the 9/11 terrorist attack and reducing the prospects for lawsuits against the airlines and the U.S. government. But his experiences did not prepare him for the emotional toll of the unprecedented task. In this personal account, Feinberg calls his charge one of the most harrowing yet rewarding experiences of his life. For 32 months, he tried to "fill the hole in a family's life with money," attempting to bring some fairness to settlements for the families of wealthy stockbrokers, middle-class firemen and policemen, and immigrant restaurant workers. What Feinberg struggled with most was the awesome task of deciding the value of human life, acknowledging his own clumsy insensitivity at the beginning, and gradually learning to deal with grieving families who wanted as much to be heard as to be compensated. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"... some times eloquent, at others oddly detached, at all times painfully honest... a rewarding read but not an easy one." -- Washington Post, 8/24/05

"Above all, Feinberg added compassion to a task that required both analytic ingenuity and careful deliberation." -- Rudolph W. Giuliani, May, 2005

"Mr. Feinberg offers a valuable first-person account of the 9/11 compensation fund and its workings...engaging, emotionally rewarding." -- New York Times, June 15, 2005

"Undeniably compelling subject matter...this understated, passionate trek into the dismal science is likely to be a major surprise bestseller.." -- Publishers Weekly, May 30, 2005

Concise, fascinating. Fortunately for our nation, our government was able to identify our finest to serve in this extraordinary capacity. -- New York Law Journal

Feinberg prevailed in his effort to make it about more than money. -- The New Republic online --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Kenneth R. Feinberg, one of the nation's leading lawyers, has been front and center in some of the most complex public legal disputes of the past three decades: Agent Orange, asbestos, the closing of the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, and now, 9/11. A former prosecutor and member of two Presidential Commissions, he is also adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and New York University.
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