Publishers Weekly Starred Review:
Peter Trachtenberg wryly observes: Everybody suffers, but Americans have the peculiar delusion that they're exempt from suffering. He shared in this denial until a friend died of cancer, and then he began to ask questions. Most of these are unanswerable, he admits. Why me? How do I endure? What is just? What does my suffering say about me? about God? And what do I owe those who suffer? This book is a layman's response to unimaginable anguish, a collection of powerful stories rather than a philosophical treatise. Writing movingly about victims and survivors of natural disasters, war, genocide, domestic violence, addiction, illness, suicide and injustice, he deftly intermingles their stories with observations from religion, philosophy and literature. Not everyone will want to face this much misery, and Trachtenberg offers no easy solutions. His book, however, succeeds because it asks the right questions, calls on the experience of articulate witnesses and—through skillful narrative and trenchant observation—beguiles the reader into facing heartbreaking reality.
From the archive:
In all his speeches, John McCain urges Americans to make sacrifices for a country that is both “an idea and a cause”.
He is not asking them to suffer anything he would not suffer himself.
But many voters would rather not suffer at all.
From 2005, Tom Friedman:
Are Americans suffering from an undue sense of entitlement?
Somebody said to me the other day that the entitlement we need to get rid of is our sense of entitlement.
From 2004, a letter in the NYT Sunday Magazine:
It is sad but common evidence of our sense of entitlement that we in the West consider whatever we get our hands on to be ours.
From 2006, Decius:
I think many Americans feel a sense of entitlement to the greatness of America. They wrap up our country's accomplishments, sprinkle on a bunch of stuff we didn't accomplish, pin it on their chest, and claim personal responsibility for it. They believe that they are personally great because they are Americans and America is great.
From 2004, David Brooks:
Most students today are overprotected, uninterested and filled with a sense of entitlement.