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Two Weeks of Life: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Politics Paperback – Bargain Price, February 23, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this elegant, heartrending account of the final choices we make, journalist Clift (Founding Sisters) juxtaposes the death of two people, one close to her and the other a national cause célèbre. Clift's husband of 20 years, Tom Brazaitis, also a journalist, was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer in 1999, and after undergoing various debilitating treatments, by March 2005 he lay dying in his home hospice. Meanwhile, the fate of Terri Schiavo, a woman in a permanent vegetative state in a Florida hospice, hung in the balance, decided by courts and President Bush himself. Shiavo's husband and parents were battling over the decision to cease feeding her by tube, and their family custody case turned into a crusade led by vociferous fundamentalist Christians. In diary format, Clift recounts the history of Tom's illness and their relationship while weaving in references to the Shiavo case and touching knowledgeably on the history of the hospice movement. The two main narratives work surprisingly well together, the tenderness and pathos of the first serving to illuminate the complex moral issues of the second, and visa versa. The result is a moving portrait.
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.

Review

Morton M. Kondracke, author of "Saving Milly: Love, Politics and Parkinson's Disease"
"As someone who has cared for a dying spouse, I found Eleanor Clift's story of her last days with her beloved Tom moving and enriching--and her account of poor Terri Schiavo's demise, perfectly horrifying. This book will enlighten all who read it--hopefully including our national leaders--about the difference between 'good death' and 'bad death.'"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (February 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465012809
  • ASIN: B002UXS0F2
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,301,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joseph P. Naughton on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The other reviewers will speak better to the great qualities of this book, so I'll echo the best of them - a wonderful read that personalizes a national story with such heartbreaking and informative reporting that truly illuminates the theme that we are a country founded on questions in search of answers. A must read for any student of our political system as well as an enlightening introduction into the culture of hospice care. One of the most important memoirs published this year.
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Format: Hardcover
You probably know Eleanor Clift, or at least know of her. On Sundays, she's the one being yelled at on The McLaughlin Group. Anyone who's seen that show knows she is a tough professional who stands her ground. This book proves it. Even in the hardest of times, Clift is a journalist to the core. She declares in the early pages that this is a love story, and indeed it is, as she records the love she shared with her husband, Tom Brazaitis, as together they faced his spreading cancer and eventual death. But it is more than a memoir.

At the same time she is recording in precise and difficult detail the last two weeks of Tom's life lived peacefully in the living room of their home with the help of hospice, she tells of another story of life and death taking place in Florida--that of Terri Schiavo. Terri Schiavo's story dominated the news as her husband and parents debated the decision of continuing to sustain Terri's life. The governor and courts of Florida became involved, and then the dispute was taken to congress and the president. While Clift was caring for Tom every night, she was involved as a journalist and commentator covering the Schiavo controversy. Her husband, also a journalist, had insisted early on that Clift continue her professional commitments. She did.

Now she has taken these two simultaneous events and combined them into an account that is both an intense personal memoir and a clear analysis of the hard decisions that face families when a loved one's life is ending. She gives her story clearly while she weaves in the Schiavo story in even-handed reporting. "I'm a journalist by training and instinct.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you love the way Eleanor Clift stands up to the conservatives on the MacLaughlin Group, you'll enjoy and sympathize with her touching memoir.
She details the difficult but compassionate decision many people have to make.
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Format: Hardcover
I read excerpts of Eleanor Clift's "Two Weeks of Like" in Newsweek, where she's been a contributor for a number of years. Those selected well-written passages about a very sensitive event - the death from kidney cancer of her husband, Cleveland Plains Dealer Washington correspondent, Tom Brazaitis - made me seek out her book in hardcover. The work as a whole stands up to the strength of the Newsweek excerpts. The operative word in Clift's work is "juxtaposition" - the dignity with which Brazaitis spends his final days vs. how Terry Schiavo spends hers. Clift never comes out and editorializes about Schiavo's treatment, but by contrasting that experience vs. her huband's, she makes her point passively but no less passionately.

At the very least, anyone reading this book will surely react by wanting to have living wills and medical powers of attorney in proper legal order.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eleanor Clift, known to many Americans by her presence and prescient offerings on "The McLaughlin Group", has written a dynamic book paralleling the lives and deaths of two people in the early spring of 2005...her husband, Tom Brazaitis, and Terri Schiavo, whose lingering life and death were watched by millions. In "Two Weeks of Life", Clift recounts the final days of both individuals...one who died a relatively private death...the other whose family endured a demise which was both horrifying and unnecessarily public.

Clift charts broad waters as she seeks and succeeds to give an overview of the times and how her own emotions were caught up with Tom. She tells of how hospice was looked upon in such craven ways as measured by the religious right's stepping over almost every conceivable boundary to "save Terri". Her accounts of Mary Labyak and the endurance tests she had to face as administrative head of Florida Suncoast hospice are chilling. Clift begins with an assertion that "this is not a political book, or at least it shouldn't have been", but knowing enough about the author one can only imagine it doesn't take her long to roll up her sleeves and opine...and she does so with gusto. On the Schiavo side we revisit the Congressional "call to action" with Governor Jeb Bush and President George Bush lamely trying to intervene...certainly a stain on the reputations of the entire Republican leadership. But she notes the Democrats were almost universally nowhere to be found, ending up with the whole operation as a bungled mess, at least politically. But Clift really shines as she relates her visits to Art Buchwald in hospice and the support she received from friends and colleagues on the McLaughlin program.
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