Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Cost of Hope: A Memoir

The Cost of Hope: A Memoir

4.0 2
by Amanda Bennett

See All Formats & Editions

From Pulitzer Prize winner Amanda Bennett comes a moving, eye-opening, and beautifully written memoir—a love story of two unusual people, their complex marriage and deep devotion, and finally, Bennett’s quest to save her husband’s life.
When Wall Street Journal reporter Amanda Bennett meets the eccentric, infuriating, yet


From Pulitzer Prize winner Amanda Bennett comes a moving, eye-opening, and beautifully written memoir—a love story of two unusual people, their complex marriage and deep devotion, and finally, Bennett’s quest to save her husband’s life.
When Wall Street Journal reporter Amanda Bennett meets the eccentric, infuriating, yet somehow irresistible Terence Bryan Foley while on assignment in China, the last thing she expects is to marry him. They are so different—classic and bohemian, bow ties and batik, quirky and sensible. But Terence is persistent. “You are going to be somebody,” he tells her. “You’re going to need somebody to take care of you.” Though initially as combative as their courtship, their marriage brings with it stormy passion, deep love and respect, two beloved children, and a life together over two decades. Then comes illness, and the fight to win a longer life for Terence.
The Cost of Hope chronicles the extraordinary measures Amanda and Terence take to preserve not only Terence’s life but also the life of their family. After his death, Bennett uses her skills as a veteran investigative reporter to determine the cost of their mission of hope. What she discovers raises important questions many people face, and vital issues about the intricacies of America’s healthcare system.
Rich in humor, insight, and candor, The Cost of Hope is an unforgettable memoir, an inspiring personal story that sheds light on one of the most important turning points in life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Equal parts marriage confessional and skilled investigative report. It’s the story of the sometimes amusing, sometimes baffling relationship and hectic but rewarding life she shared with [husband Terence] Foley for over two decades. It’s also the fascinating account of an illness—its origins, composition and progression—and of the cost (mental, physical and financial) of trying to treat it via the complicated, frustrating, outrageously expensive American healthcare system....[Bennett] vividly presents the startling price and the occasional payoffs of hope.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Moving and intelligent…Like Joan Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking, Joyce Carol Oates in A Widow’s Tale, and Kay Redfield Jamison in Nothing Was the Same, Bennett finds, in her grief over her husband’s death, an opportunity to explore their fascinating and complex life together…. Foley is a larger-than-life character, and Bennett paints him vividly and affectionately. It doesn’t take long for the reader to fall in love with this guy and also with his wife, the warm and honest narrator of their story….A deeply felt memoir [to] savor.”
The Boston Globe
“Poignant…Part love story, part expose of the absurdities of the American healthcare system, Bennett will open your eyes while filling them with tears.”
“Important, relevant, and riveting....The implicit message [of The Cost of Hope]...is that if this brilliant woman...can't figure out the health care system and its many dips and traps, then no one can.”
Portland Oregonian
“[A] memoir squarely in the midst of our debate about the American health-care system and how broken it actually is…The Cost of Hope might be expected to come in under some vague heading like ‘Good and Good for You,’ but Bennett moves her book far beyond all that because she’s such a terrific writer....[The Cost of Hope] is a wonderful story about an engaging, even heroic, American family.”
—Carolyn See, Washington Post
“Both a memoir of a marriage and a sharp piece of investigative journalism....With The Cost of Hope she has not only memorialized [her husband] artfully, but turned his experience into a probing look at modern medicine and the choices it forces upon us.”
 “[The Cost of Hope] illuminates the conundrum Americans face over the high cost of care—the fact that we will do almost anything to keep our loved ones alive because we can't bear to let them go.”
Wall Street Journal
“Bennett is a skillful writer…[and her] candor is winning....[A] loving picture of a very human response to illness.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A a love story about two ridiculously mismatched people; a portrait of a maddening, brilliant man; and an examination of our nearly unfathomable health care system…written with such honesty that when you open the book you feel like you're stepping right into their life.”
Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“Must reading....[Bennett] carries off a high-wire act worthy of a novel, as she weaves together a hilarious retelling of the couples courtship [and] their cross-country lives together in the U.S. [with] a heart-tugging tale of their nine-year battle with Terence’s cancer. Along the way, Amanda dishes one of the most illuminating and digestible accounts I’ve read of why the U.S. health care system is an unfathomable mess. The book is an impressive feat and a darn good read, reflecting skills Amanda acquired during decades of reporting and editing, as well as her biting with, knack for just the right anecdote, and perfect ear for the incisive quote.”
— Michael Waldholz, Forbes
“The hot-button issue of unregulated health-care costs underscores this engaging memoir of marriage and terminal illness….While retracing the path of [her husband’s] terminal prognosis, [Bennett] uncovered a flawed system of mismanaged lab information, astronomical insurance charges and conditional physician reimbursements. The author leaves readers with more questions than answers after dealing with an industry that sets prices “like a giant Chinese bazaar” yet facilitated her husband’s participation in experimental clinical trials….A moving, beautifully written chronicle of true love and a clarion call for health-care reform.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[An] affecting memoir….[Bennett’s] story of how to fight for any hope you can get when there seems to be none, provides touching and instructive wisdom for the millions affected by cancer.”
Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
The hot-button issue of unregulated health-care costs underscores this engaging memoir of marriage and terminal illness. Bennett (In Memoriam, 1997, etc.), a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and executive editor at Bloomberg News, met Terence Foley at a party while on assignment in China in 1983. Lounging on a sofa in a bow tie and horn-rimmed glasses, he plied the lonesome, deadline-driven reporter with tall tales of being a Fulbright Scholar--in reality, however, he was the wacky director of the American Soybean Association. Nevertheless, this became their "signature story," and a lifetime love was born for Bennett and her visceral, fastidiously dressed beau, 12 years her senior. Their eccentric, restless 20-year marriage produced two children (one biological, one adopted) and plenty of highs and lows, all recounted through the author's droll, conversational anecdotes. Foley's colon cancer was diagnosed in late 2000, followed by the discovery of a rare, aggressive kidney carcinoma, which may (or may not have) contributed to his death. Bennett discovered the ambiguity of his diagnosis while poring over her husband's medical records. While retracing the path of his terminal prognosis, she uncovered a flawed system of mismanaged lab information, astronomical insurance charges and conditional physician reimbursements. The author leaves readers with more questions than answers after dealing with an industry that sets prices "like a giant Chinese bazaar" yet facilitated her husband's participation in experimental clinical trials. A moving, beautifully written chronicle of true love and a clarion call for health-care reform.
The New York Times Book Review
…equal parts marriage confessional and skilled investigative report. It's a story of the sometimes amusing, sometimes baffling relationship and hectic but rewarding life [Bennett] shared with Foley for over two decades. It's also the fascinating account of an illness—its origins, composition and progression—and of the cost (mental, physical and financial) of trying to treat it via the complicated, frustrating, outrageously expensive American health care system.
—Cathi Hanauer
The Washington Post
The Cost of Hope might be expected to come in under some vague heading like "Good and Good for You," but Bennett moves her book far beyond all that because she's such a terrific writer…a wonderful story about an engaging, even heroic, American family.
—Carolyn See

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


It almost always begins in darkness, my memory’s trip back to the China where Terence and I meet.

In the first week of February 1983, I fly in to Peking to take up my post as the correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. I am looking out the window of a Pan Am flight as it circles, preparing to land. Below is the country’s capital, one of the world’s biggest cities. This is not the China of the Olympics, the futuristic seventy-story towers and magnetic trains, of stylish wealthy entrepreneurs and world-devouring currency reserves. In 1983, eleven years after President Nixon’s 1972 walk along the Great Wall, the country is still enmeshed in the shock and trauma of the Cultural Revolution and of the turbulent three decades since the People’s Republic of China was formed in 1949. It’s still easy to see the gashing wounds from years of isolation, poverty, and the political instability of the Cultural Revolution that has barely ended.

Peking—it is still Peking in those days—is the home of 9.3 million people, yet there is none of the exuberant burst of light that normally greets travelers flying into a big city. There are no ocher ribbons of highway spiraling out from the city’s center, nor do snakes of white headlights flow in one direction, red taillights in another. No massive office buildings flaunt shining squares into the night long after the workers have left for home. There are no cheerfully lighted houses either, no boxlike warrens of high-rise apartments fanning out to lighted loops of suburban cul-de-sacs. Instead, here in China’s capital in the early 1980s, most people still live in dark one-story brick or stone courtyards with public street latrines. Even in the center of the city, some families still raise chickens and small pigs. Many homes still have no electricity at all.

It is a dark and silent city. In 1983 the country still hasn’t recovered from the decadelong nightmare of the Cultural Revolution that pitted colleague against colleague, neighbor against neighbor, child against parent. The bleakness disturbs me. There are only a handful of cars—some owned by a tiny city-owned taxi fleet, a few driven by diplomats or journalists, as well as the hulking Russian-style Hongqi limousines favored by high-ranking Party officials. Someone sometime told someone that headlights burn gasoline, so only parking lights are used at night. The cars are ghostly shadows with tiny yellow cats’ eyes.

Almost all the necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter—are supplied by the factory or office. Stores have only recently begun to reemerge, but most shop windows are still boarded up or plastered over. For many weeks I don’t even realize that these darkened doorways are stores. It is a dingy, featureless wasteland.

For the first several months I live alone in an apartment that is also my office. While the telex clatters behind me, every night I stand on the twelfth-floor balcony looking down into the dark night toward the southeast of the city. I live herded together with the other journalists and diplomats in this walled compound of cinder-block buildings, guarded—and watched—by soldiers.

The winter air is bitter with the smoke of the soft coal briquettes that people use to heat their houses. Off in the distance I hear the wail of a train whistle. Directly below me, metal clops against asphalt as the horse-drawn delivery carts still allowed into the center city after sundown make their nightly rounds. Even late at night the streets pulse with bikers heading to work or back home or who knows where. Only the barest hint of color—a sleeve, a scarf, a ribbon—has begun to appear here and there to brighten the Communist-era Mao-style dress. Otherwise the bikers, both men and women, are all dark. Dark jackets. Dark trousers. Dark shoes. Dark hats. Dark bikes.

I stand on my balcony and think how lucky I am to be here at this historic moment—how excited, and at the same time how frightened, alone, and confused I am in this bleak, strange, unwelcoming place.

On Saturday, September 3, 1983, as midnight approaches I am still working. I work pretty much all the time. Just as I am starting to fade with exhaustion, New York wakes up with its barrage of questions and comments and demands. Working all day and then answering the phone through the night adds a kind of surreal, never-quite-awake/never-quite-asleep quality to my life in China.

Tonight I struggle with the story that just won’t fall into shape. Mikhail Kapitsa, a Soviet deputy foreign minister, is set to arrive in the capital. He is the highest-ranking Soviet to visit since China and the Soviet Union broke off relations in 1960. Because the two countries had split, few Soviet experts are left in China, at least ones willing to talk. I can find almost no one who understands the politics of both countries well enough to explain the significance of the visit. There is no Internet; I check the indexes of all the reference books I have brought and find nothing. My interviews have been next to useless.

I planned to skip the party that John Broder, the Chicago Tribune correspondent in the next building over, is throwing. I must get this piece written! But I am worn out, lonely, and discouraged. I leave the yellow sheets in the typewriter and wander over, intending to stay for only a few minutes. John Broder is a witty, lively, guitar-playing bon vivant. His wife is beautiful and dark-haired with a wisp of an exotic accent—Israeli? Their party is an event.

The bow-tied man on the sofa across the room is wearing horn-rimmed glasses. He looks a bit out of place, maybe even a bit out of time. He’s older than the others. Stouter. More formal.

When he motions me over, I settle in next to him and begin to tell him the subject of my troublesome story. His eyes light up. Sino-Soviet politics are his specialty, he says. In fact, he is here in Peking as a Fulbright scholar, on a one-year fellowship to China precisely to study the relations between China and the Soviet Union. We begin an intense conversation about the personal and professional hostilities between Mao and Stalin that had led to the countries’ rift in the 1950s. The terrible economic price China had paid for the split. The effect on world politics of the two rivals, and the change in balance of power when the United States opened its arms gingerly again to China. It is a masterly discussion. Just what I have been missing. Just what I need. I am not so much of a geek as to bring a notepad to the party, so I try to memorize as much as I can before, close to 3:00 a.m., I say good night and walk home alone. I live only two buildings over, inside the compound surrounded by soldiers. By the next morning I remember the substance of the talk but not the man’s name.

That afternoon I call our host. The Fulbright scholar? John is stumped. People just show up at his parties. He didn’t know half the people in the room. I make a few other calls, but no one seems to recall the proper middle-aged man with the owlish glasses and bow tie. Without a name to pin the observations on, I’m not comfortable writing the story, so I let it go and chalk it up as another disappointment.

A few months go by. I have almost forgotten about him in the press of work. Then, without warning, I spot him again at another staple of 1980s China social life—a bank reception. A big American bank is opening its office here. It has rented the courtyard of a lovely old prerevolutionary home. The space is filled with the usual assortment of businesspeople, journalists, and Chinese officials in Mao jackets. There are drinks and hors d’oeuvres and endless speeches about friendship and cooperation. He is standing alone.

“I’ve been looking for you,” I say.

“I was going to call,” he answers. “I’ve been traveling.” This time, at a business occasion instead of a party, he automatically hands me his card, as I just as automatically hold out mine.

Terence B. Foley

Country Director

American Soybean Association

“Soybeans? I don’t understand. You said you were a Fulbright scholar. Studying Sino-Soviet relations.”

He shrugs. “You’re cute. You’re a journalist. I wanted to talk to you. Journalists are always working. How long would you have talked to me if I told you I was in soybeans? You wanted to talk about China and Russia, so I made up a person who could talk about China and Russia. I knew you’d find out sooner or later.”


Made it up?

I stare at the card.

“You asshole!” I finally blurt out. “You could have gotten me fired!” I stamp away.

And that is how we met.

Years later, this becomes our signature story, a kind of stand-up routine for both of us. When our children are old enough, we tell them the story at least once a year.

At his funeral, I stand up and tell it alone.

I don’t see him again until about three months later, on Febru-ary 2, 1984. It’s Chinese New Year, the first day of the Year of the Rat. I spot him in a boarding lounge in Tokyo, both of us heading back to the city that by now has been renamed Beijing. I’m on my way back from my first home leave. He’s coming back from who knows where. He is in business class and doesn’t see me turning right into coach.

There aren’t more than a dozen people in the cavernous rear of the plane. All commerce and diplomatic work stops for the New Year holiday, and no sane tourist goes to frigid, polluted Beijing in February, which a colleague once described as like being stuck inside a vacuum cleaner bag inside a freezer. Exhausted from a full day of upright flying back from my leave in New York, I lie down across three seats and fall asleep.

When we arrive in Beijing at midnight, the airport is more dreary than usual. Even in broad daylight the Beijing airport is a depressing place, cold and barren and more like a military hangar than a modern commercial airport. Even at its bustling peak, there is no food. No publicly available phones. In those days before cellphones, once inside the airport, you were nearly cut off from the rest of the world.

Tonight, the baggage handlers sullenly fling the bags onto the wooden pallets. Eager to get home for the holiday, skinny pigtailed girls wearing khaki green airport service uniforms scurry around flipping off light switches even before the plane is fully unloaded. I look around. The few people on the plane have been met by relatives, or by their work units, or by their drivers. My own driver is home with his family. I gave him the holiday off, thinking taxis would certainly be available. Tonight there are none. It is minus 14 degrees Celsius—not even 7 degrees Fahrenheit. There is an eighteen-mile-long deserted road fringed with linden trees between me and home.

Then I spot him over by a service desk, a telephone in his hand. He is a hefty man but even across the room he looks oddly puffed up like Santa Claus, a navy greatcoat ballooning around him. He has found an airport telephone tucked inside a service desk. I give him points for that. Still, I feel a faint wave of contempt. Of course he is going to need me to help him translate. I am no expert, but I have quickly made myself functional in the language. Older American businessmen, in my experience, have not.

I start across the room to offer to help, when a sudden torrent of rapid-fire, colloquial Chinese bursts out of him. He speaks so fast I can’t understand anything he says. He hangs up the phone and turns to me.

“I live in a hotel,” he says. “I’ve asked the desk to send a car to get us.”


I see I really haven’t much of a choice. We are the only two passengers left in the airport, and the last of the lights are going out. As we wait for the car, I watch in amazement as he begins pulling videotapes out from every wrinkle in his clothing. He is smoking, talking, and unloading all at once. His outside pockets. Inside pockets. Pants pockets. Inside his bloused-out shirt. His front waistband. His rear waistband. Altogether he stacks more than twenty cassettes that he had just smuggled in. The Quiet Man. All About Eve. Apocalypse Now. Lawrence of Arabia. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The Maltese Falcon. Vertigo. The Big Sleep. Dr. Strangelove. Bonnie and Clyde. Top Hat. They are all classics, and they aren’t illegal. It’s just that bored officials with no other entertainment have a habit of taking videos to check for subversive material and then “losing” them.

“I have more than five hundred movies in my apartment,” he boasts. “I tape them off TV in the U.S. and bring them in every trip.”

Despite his grin, it is clear that I was wrong in supposing that he hadn’t noticed me boarding. He is peevish.

“I tried to talk to you the whole plane ride home. I kept walking back and all I saw was your feet.”

“I was asleep.”

“I went back a whole bunch of times and all there was to talk to was Mel Searls.” Mel is the portly and kindly U.S. embassy commercial counselor. This is obviously my fault.

“I was asleep,” I repeat.

“I like Mel, but I can’t talk to him for five hours.”

“I WAS ASLEEP.” This guy is ticking me off.

“So now what’s going to happen is you’re going to come back to my place and we will watch a movie, have a drink, and eat some treats.”

Uh, I think, that is not even close to what is going to happen. I am going to go home to bed. Alone.

Jet lag is my only explanation for what comes next. It is 1:00 a.m. in Beijing, but my body thinks it is 1:00 p.m. in New York. On the drive home I confront the reality that back at my miserable apartment I will face at least six terrible hours in my empty cinder-block office/home standing on the balcony unable to sleep but unable to do much else either. So when the car pulls up to my door—the soldier waved us past when he saw the white faces inside—I drop my luggage in the apartment and rejoin him.

He lives down the road in the Jianguo Hotel, the first new hotel built in China since the 1950s. It is a joint venture modeled on a California Holiday Inn and it is a foreigners’ oasis with new carpets, polite staff, a private supply of salad greens grown without benefit of human manure, and a small restaurant serving hamburgers. Journalists and diplomats live in compounds. Businesspeople live in hotels. He has scored the Jianguo, the only one of its kind in China.

He opens the door on his home, a seventeen-by-seventeen room downstairs with a few steps leading to another room the same size upstairs. It is a standard-issue Holiday Inn hotel room, complete with a painting over the sofa of birches reflected in a pond. Except for one thing: It is stuffed like a warehouse from top to bottom. He opens the door to the downstairs half bath.

Meet the Author

Amanda Bennett is an executive editor at Bloomberg News, directing special projects and investigations, and was the co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board. She formerly served as editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, editor of the Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky), managing editor of The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), and Atlanta bureau chief (among numerous other posts) at The Wall Street Journal. In 1997, Bennett shared the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting with her Journal colleagues, and in 2001 she led an Oregonian team to a Pulitzer for public service. Her previous books include In Memoriam (1997, with Terence B. Foley), The Man Who Stayed Behind (1993, with Sidney Rittenberg), and The Death of the Organization Man (1990).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Cost of Hope: A Memoir 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
LAWonder More than 1 year ago
I first want to say I appreciate this book was mostly free of the baser usage of words authors seem to need theses days. There was some profanity (too much for me) but not excessive. I can't imagine why a couple would want to put themselves into a relationship that was so explosive from the beginning but it does prove most relationships can succeed with much effort, respect and some counseling. I can appreciate the strain and uncertainty one goes through with such horrible illnesses. I, as I am sure is true for much of the world population, have had personal family and friends who have suffered through similar trials. Much can be learned through others experiences, yet many times what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. It is great for you to share your experiences and the book was quite well written however at times it seemed too repetitive and fluctuated back and forth too frequently. I feel this is worth reading, specially for those who haven't experienced this type of loss before. I won this and thank you for entering it into the giveaway. I enjoyed the opportunity to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone who is has a loved who is terminally ill or chronically ill should read this-the joys that are found in everyday life and challenges of medical care. Tough decisions I'm staring atand I'm grateful for another view.