This resounding rebuke to scornful attitudes toward the mentally ill takes its title from a notably insensitive 2010 email exchange between high-level staffers of Scott Walker during his run for Wisconsin governor. Using that moment as a touchstone of indifference, Powers (Mark Twain: A Life) weaves a dual tale of the personal and the political. In one thread, he traces the history of public efforts to ameliorate (or, more often, hide) the plight of those living with mental illness, from London’s infamous Bedlam in the 18th and 19th centuries, where wealthy visitors were charged admission to gawk at the inmates, to America’s present-day prison-industrial complex. In the other, he tells his own family’s heartrending story of grappling with disease: both of his sons have struggled with schizophrenia, and his younger son, Kevin, lost his life to it in 2005. Along with grief, this section of the book is full of joy, serving as a loving tribute to Powers’s sons and putting a human face on serious mental illness for anyone lucky enough never to have been forced to confron it. Readers will surely be moved by this double portrait of one family’s days of happiness and sorrow, and the world’s halting and flawed attempts to care for troubled people. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2016 Release date: 03/21/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
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