cover image BONE TO PICK: Of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Reparations, and Revenge

BONE TO PICK: Of Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Reparations, and Revenge

Ellis Cose, . . Atria, $22 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-7434-7066-7

Newsweek contributing editor Cose (The Envy of the World ) examines a broad spectrum of responses to the pain and trauma of personal violence as well as national tragedy. He visits American families victimized by crime and the World Trade Center attacks, consults a range of literature (e.g., Bernhard Schlink's The Reader and Laura Blumenfeld's Revenge ) and travels around the world to see how ruptured societies cope with past human rights violations. While Cose meets several victims who agree that forgiveness helps them cope, he acknowledges that, for some, the return of normalcy and security remains a first priority. And forgiveness is not always forthcoming; Cose finds those molested by priests can forgive the molestor more easily than they can those who didn't stop him. While Cose acknowledges that some relatives and friends of homicide victims feel relief at the murder's execution, he's more inspired by those who transform wrath into "something more ennobling." He concludes that the truth and reconciliation commissions in South Africa and Peru provided more of the former than the latter; a Peruvian tells him that reconciliation must be rooted in fundamental change that has so far not been forthcoming in that country. Cose looks at reparations cases from Maori in New Zealand to Japanese-Americans interned in the U.S. during WWII. He contrasts the response to 1920s mob attacks on blacks in Tulsa, Okla., and Rosewood, Fla.; in Rosewood, unlike Tulsa, officials have supported restitution. As for reparations for American slavery (a book in itself), Cose acknowledges that the case can't be won in court, but makes it clear that the issue is still hovering and doing damage. The scope forces Cose to touch lightly and then move on, but the book gives readers a substantial nudge toward exploring the lessons of recent history. Agent, Michael Congdon. (Apr. 6)