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Things Worth Fighting For: Collected Writings Paperback – March 29, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Atlantic Monthly editor Kelly, who covered Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Arafat's return to Gaza in 1994, and Bosnia in 1995, was killed in the Iraq war in April 2003. Although he'd considered himself a dove in the Vietnam years, "I am certainly now a hawk," he declared in 2002, his war coverage having convinced him "of the moral imperative, sometimes, for war." "There are things worth dying for, and killing for," as "every twelve-year-old" in Bosnia already knows. While Kelly's war reportage dominates this collection of his columns (mostly published in theWashington Post, the New Yorker and the New Republic in the 1990s), the volume also covers domestic culture and politics. Kelly's signature format was the character (or lack of character) sketch, where he'd reduce larger-than-life politicians to a decidedly human scale. Jesse Jackson "jets around the world as secretary of his own state of mind." Ross Perot was America's "first fusion-paranoia candidate for the presidency." When Bob Dole makes a speech, his phrases interrupt each other "like a call-waiting system gone awry." Beyond mere Beltway-insider cleverness, Kelly argued for a return to core American values like courage, honesty and love of country. We can't go back to being "square"-it's quite as impossible as "revirginizing"-but being patriotic and conservative could be cool again, Kelly suggests. The book's strength lies in the impact of having Kelly's war essays in one place, in chronological order, giving them a power they didn't have when sprinkled weekly in the press.
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

Kelly, the award-winning journalist who was killed in 2001 while on assignment in Iraq for the Atlantic Monthly and the Washington Post, compiled an incredible body of work that reflected on American life from the mundane to the monumental. This collection, with a foreword from Ted Koppel, offers a sampling of Kelly's blistering wit and penetrating observations. Topics focus on American life, including the Catholic Church's cover-up of child abuse by priests; social stylings back and forth between square and cool culture; the game of politics that seems less about objective realty than virtual reality, including portraits of Ted Kennedy and Ross Perot (with a separate section devoted exclusively to Bill Clinton and troubling questions about his administration); the perils and absurdities of covering war; and Kelly's own life as a husband and father. An epilogue includes e-mails from Kelly to friends, family, and colleagues that evoke the personality of the man, his zest for his work, and his belief that all of us are in search of things worth fighting for. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143034936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143034933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,263,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. L. Saylor on March 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Michael Kelly spared no words, not even "fighting words," when he was writing with that righteous fervor about something he saw that was wrong. I so looked forward to Wednesdays when his column would run in the Washington Post, with a perspective that was fresh and articulate, and which skewered the "political correctness" and conventional wisdom which surround us.
His book about the 1st US/Iraq war, Martyr's Day, of which there are excerpts here, is unbeatable journalism which does not really age with time. Michael supported the 2nd US/Iraq war, and in fact his life ended while he was there covering it. But another wonderful aspect of his writing was that eternity was implicit between the lines, and would peak out when he wrote about his family, or the vignettes he could capture so naturally and effectively. And for me, the eternal was also present even when he was very down to earth, for example writing about something like the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, because he would unhesitatingly remind us that there is right and wrong in this world of ours. His work well justifies publishing this collection.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a fan of Michael Kelly since I first discovered him in the pages of the New Republic back in the early nineties. He was that rarest of pundit/journalists. He was a man profoundly interested in truth and profoundly disgusted by modern ?spin.? Although a moderate liberal by birthright and inclination, Kelly found himself moving further and further from the reservation as the Clinton years proceeded. Kelly eventually was fired as editor of the New Republic for being too harsh on the Clinton administration. He then found his way to a regular syndicated column in the Washington Post and a job as editor in chief of the Atlantic, which he turned around completely. He became an embedded reporter during the Iraq war and as most know was tragically killed when his jeep came under fire and crashed on the way to Bagdhad. He was forty seven and left a wife and two young sons.
We will never read the book he would have written about the war. I have no doubt it would have given us the real story, unvarnished and without an agenda. Because that?s what Kelly was about. His loss is not just a tragedy for his family, it is a national tragedy because a vital voice has been lost at a crucial time in American history. A reading of this brilliant collection of Kelly?s writings will attest to just how great the loss is. This book is a collection of Mike?s writings from 1990 through his death in 2003. The book is organized, not chronologically but by section. There is a section on ?Visions of America? in which Kelly?s columns and articles on American culture in the nineties is collected. These writings display the wit and satire for which he was well known. In sections on politics and the ?Age of Clinton? Kelly skewers the emptiness of ?spin?
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Kelly, Things Worth Fighting For: Collected Writings, is a compilation of works written by Kelly over a period of about fifteen years. I had not read any of his columns or essays before reading this book and, indeed, barely paid much attention to the announcement of his death covering the Iraq War as an embedded journalist. That was to my own detriment, as I think, after having devoured these essays, I would have enjoyed following his witty, sometimes graphic, occasionally grim, and always insightful writing.
The book is divided into sections generally covering periods such as the Clinton Administration, the Gulf War, the Palestine/Israel peace accords, the War on Terror and the Iraq War. There are also pieces on culture and society (including some short biographical works on Jesse Jackson and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley Jr.), and even some emails he sent to his family while in Iraq. Publication date and original source for each essay and column are at the end of the book ? I would rather that that information been included in the headings for each. There are enough of his writings collected in the book to get a sense of the man and even some hints of the evolution of his thoughts and attitudes. His writing style is fluid and succinct. I could just barely stop reading the book when it was time to go to sleep each night.
The most poignant, and graphic, of his writings included in this book are those covering the Gulf War. He started it having never seen the human and material costs of war first-hand and ended it believing that there truly are things worth fighting, and dying, for.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkable book. Having Michael Kelly?s essays and columns together in a single volume is a treasure. Reading them together, seeing themes developed in a way that was not visible when the essays came out individually, gives them an extraordinary cumulative power.
There are essays in this volume that are worth the entire book, including Kelly?s two-page essay on the degeneration of political protest (?Imitation Activism?), the classic ?Nice Column,? essays about the Middle East (?Arafat Bombs on Opening Night?), and an essay written on September 11, 2001 (?When Innocents Are the Enemy?) that cannot be read often enough.
LA Reader?s comment below is unfortunate, not only for its personal denigration and political criticism in the guise of reviewing a book, but because of its intended effect ? to persuade readers to skip a literary work of enduring value that belongs in every serious library.
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