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Colm ToibinWhen he is not being mean and when he is not happy, he can write as well as George Orwell. His witnessing an execution by lethal injection of a man who was suffering from post-Vietnam stress disorder makes for a brilliant, chilling piece of work. ''The medical butchery of a helpless and demented loser, the descendant of slaves and a discarded former legionary of the Empire, made neither society nor any individual safer. It canceled no moral debt. It was a creepy, furtive and shameful affair, in which the participants could not decently show their faces or quite meet one another's eye.'' His essay on the nonteaching of history in the United States, where his own children cannot ''tell Thomas Jefferson from Thomas the Tank Engine,'' is also thoughtful and convincing.
— The New York Times