Sunday, December 15, 2013
This month we are reading Eyal Press' Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times, a great little book that is both inspiring and thought-provoking. Watch the video above for a brief taste of this author's insight into how everyday moral dilemmas converge with huge global concerns. This book asks what kind of person breaks from the crow and to defy orders or become a whistleblower. This is sure to be a great discussion starter! For an overview of the book, you can check out the Talk of the Nation NPR interview that got me interested in this title, or this interview from Penn State.
To learn more about the author, stop by his web page. You can browse links to articles Press has written there, but here are a few that I thought extended the discussion from the book particularly well:
From NYRB Whistleblower, Leaker, Traitor, Spy: How does Edward Snowden fit the whistleblower model? And similarly an NYT op-ed leading with the Bradley Manning case: Silencing the Whistle-Blowers.
From Tom Dispatch Why No One Would Listen: Corporate Whistleblowers Get the Silent Treatment From Washington: Why do we ignore those who call out corporate malfeasance and bring the hammer down on national security whistleblowers?
One of the cases recounted in the book involves a WWII era Swiss border guard, Paul Grüninger, who disobeyed orders allowing thousands of Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany. If your German is up to speed, a documentary about Grüninger is viewable here, but if not, you may be in luck, as a feature film version of this story, "Akte Grüninger" is set to debut next month. I have no idea whether it will make it to the U.S. market, but it looks promising and you can view the trailer - released just this week - below.
Finally, I know I'm now curious about Eyal Press' previous book about the abortion debate, Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America. If you are too, you can get a preview of the subject of that book from this NPR Fresh Air interview.