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send news of your recently published book along with a review copy,
if possible, to "Bookshelf," Oberlin Alumni Magazine.
Your review copy will be presented to the Oberlin College Library
as a gift from you.
Starr: A Reassessment
By Benjamin Wittes '91
Yale University Press, 2002
by Ted Gest '68
played a variety of roles, most unwillingly, in Kenneth Starr's
investigation that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Bob Weiner
'69, then a spokesman for the White House drug policy office, was
subpoenaed for urging a probe of Linda Tripp; the bookstore founded
by William Kramer '68 was subpoenaed for Monica Lewinsky's purchase
records; Linda Gustitus '69 helped draft the independent counsel
law as an aide to Michigan Sen. Carl Levin.
Benjamin Wittes '91 has looked back on the whole affair and reached
a critical judgment, but not for the reasons many political analysts
have offered. The basic problem with Starr's long-winded and expensive
investigation, which captivated the nation between 1994 and Clinton's
last days in office, was not that Starr was a Republican or was
fixated on the president's sex life, Wittes concludes. Rather, he
argues that the independent prosecutor drastically misread his own
mandate. Wittes, who writes editorials on legal issues for the Washington
Post, says that Starr should have been acting like a traditional
prosecutor who decides if there is sufficient evidence to convince
a jury that a crime has been committed. Instead, he ran a truth
squad-type inquiry aimed at documenting Clinton's misdeeds for Congress.
book goes far beyond the musings of an editorial writer. He persuaded
Starr to sit for 10 hours of interviews'his attempt to get at the
truth of what motivated Starr. The result is a readable, albeit
somewhat legalistic, analysis of Starr's modus operandi. The Wittes'
thesis had received relatively little attention from journalists
and other book authors, who have been caught up in the scandal's
Wittes' view, Starr's investigation, "despite its hopeless
grandiosity, somehow managed not to address rigorously the core
question that lay at its heart: whether or not Bill Clinton should
be prosecuted." More than two years after the investigation
began, Starr's successor decided to convene another grand jury,
eventually not prosecuting the departing president.
does not escape criticism himself. One reviewer complained that
the author took at face value Starr's truth-commission explanation,
which was largely offered after the fact as a defense of an investigation
that seemed out of control. Starr wrote a response to "fair-minded
critic" Wittes in the magazine Legal Affairs, arguing
that Congress "saw fit to define an extraordinary role for
each [independent] counsel as a provider of information to the public."
If lawmakers revive the special prosecutor law, Wittes maintains,
"the more general truth-seeking function must devolve to Congress,
to inspectors general, to historians, and to the press." The
book is worthwhile reading for those concerned about how the integrity
of government can be maintained when a political administration
is called on to investigate itself.
Gest, a former editor at U.S. News and World Report, heads the
program on crime policy and the news media at the Jerry Lee Center
of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.
The First Year of Hepatitis B: An Essential Guide for the
By William Finley Green '85
Marlowe & Company, 2002
hepatitis B virus causes an estimated 1 million deaths each year.
Green, who has lived with hepatitis B for almost 25 years and has
become an expert on the condition, guides those newly diagnosed
through the first year of treatment, including diet, exercise, social
concerns, and emotional issues. This is an excellent first-person
account of HBV that leaves out the confusing jargon of in-depth
The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook: They Came, They Cooked, They
Left (But We Ended Up with Some Great Recipes)
By Erin Ergenbright and
Thisbe Nissen '94
Harper Collins, 2002
this creative work, the authors supplement recipes received from
ex-boyfriends with colorful collages and stories about failed relationships.
Recipes are divided into seven categories: sweet things, sort of
fluffy things, savory things, spicy things, slippery things, and
substantial things. The amusing and touching stories examine the
ups and downs of love and place the recipes within the context of
the relationships. Oberlin's infamous Banana House is mentioned
in a story accompanying the recipe for The Mask Bandit's Banana
Chocolate Chip Cake.
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