What Is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11

What Is Life Worth?: The Unprecedented Effort to Compensate the Victims of 9/11

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by Kenneth R. Feinberg
     
 

Appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to administer the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Feinberg here reflects on his experiences in the post. He describes the nuts and bolts of the task, including the difficulties of balancing competing demands of 9-11 survivors under the congressional mandate that defined appropriate compensation for an individual's… See more details below

Overview

Appointed by Attorney General John Ashcroft to administer the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Feinberg here reflects on his experiences in the post. He describes the nuts and bolts of the task, including the difficulties of balancing competing demands of 9-11 survivors under the congressional mandate that defined appropriate compensation for an individual's worth in terms of his or her earning power. He also discusses the impact that the job had on him as an individual. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Editorial Reviews

William Grimes
In What Is Life Worth? Mr. Feinberg offers a valuable first-person account of the 9/11 compensation fund and its workings. He makes clear, for the first time, exactly how peculiar the law governing the fund was, and the enormous difficulties, ethical and practical, that resulted from its ambiguous language and hastily written guidelines.
— The New York Times
John Farmer
What is life worth? Feinberg found the answer not in actuarial tables or projected incomes but in the almost limitless capacity of people to love: "Love was often all that survivors could cling to -- a life preserver -- in their effort to get through each day. They had been left behind, but they had been left behind with powerful reserves of love." The Sept. 11 fund began as an airline bailout, but it ended as a vehicle for expressing love. That transfiguration was Feinberg's great professional and, we suspect, personal achievement; we come away feeling that the process of determining what life is worth transformed not just the fund but its special master, too.
— The Washington Post
Washington Post 8/24/05
"... some times eloquent, at others oddly detached, at all times painfully honest... a rewarding read but not an easy one."
Publishers Weekly
When Feinberg writes that "[t]he cacophony of arguments validated my original preference: to refuse to evaluate individual suffering" midway through this frank memoir, the reader already trusts him enough to know that he is not being crass or unfeeling: he is being honest. By then, Feinberg, a lawyer who has been on two presidential commissions and has done Agent Orange litigation, has established his judicious forthrightness and his dedication to "the success of the fund"-getting as many families as possible to opt in to the trust, which he headed and which was established to award cash to the 9/11 victims, rather than sue the government. The problem: how, and how much? Feinberg's willingness to put himself into the book makes what could have been an alternately dry and self-serving case study crackle with care, frustration, intellectual energy and good writing. Feinberg and his team ran through every argument and counterargument for compensation and its various possible permutations, and he presents the debate, and his ultimate conclusions as head of the 9/11 fund, with an earned conviction and clarity, even on stat-heavy pages. With its combination of a strong personality, undeniably compelling subject matter and a great title, this understated, passionate trek into the dismal terrain is likely to be a major surprise bestseller. Anything but macabre, it ends up, in its own way, celebrating life. (June 13) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586483234
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
06/13/2005
Pages:
213
Product dimensions:
5.84(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.90(d)

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