Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
RAR 11:1 (Winter 2002) p. 165
Saving Milly: Love, Politics, And Parkinson’s Disease, Morton Kondracke. New York: Public Affairs (2001). 288 pages, cloth, $25.00
When editor and friend Stephen Board recently shared a lunch appointment with me to discuss business he suggested I read his copy of Morton Kondracke’s new book, Saving Milly. With a personal interest in Parkinson’s Disease, which has taken its awful toll on my wife’s elderly father, and a long-standing appreciation for Mort Kondracke as a journalist and political pundit, I happily took Steve’s offer. I had seen Morton Kondracke discuss his book on a recent Booknotes television interview with Brian Lamb on C-Span. (For those who do not watch Booknotes, there are few television shows I value more highly!) For this reason I had some idea of what Kondracke attempted to do in this deeply moving personal account of his long battle for Millie, his wife.
Morton Kondracke is a lapsed, liberal Presbyterian. Millicent Martinez, his wife, is a non-practicing Roman Catholic who appears to have long ago abandoned the idea that there was a merciful, personal providence at work in her own life. Kondracke’s frank account of love, marriage, family, politics, and suffering are profoundly moving. He pulls no punches. His style is never whiney and his questions are profound and deeply felt.
Kondracke recounts his early life with Milly before he narrates the developments since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1987. He tells how they struggled with one another, argued constantly, and continually sought power in their marriage
RAR 11:1 (Winter 2002) p. 166
relationship, all the time finding ways to resolve their problems and stay together. In one moving confession, following several pages of such accounts, Kondracke notes:
There was never a possibility that we would get divorced. We were committed to each other, bonded, almost welded. Neither of us was ever unfaithful to the other, or even seriously tempted. We had similar tastes in color, style, and furniture. We were almost telepathic with each other, automatically knowing what the other thought or felt about things. Even though our politics diverged—I stopped being a liberal over foreign policy issues in the late 1970s—we had the same basic values. We mutually adored our children. I respected all her strengths, and she clearly found some in me (61).
This type of candor and compelling honesty fills page after page, making this a real life love story of how two people found one another in the crucible of great trial and personal pain. We read of the failure of Freudian psychoanalysis in Mort’s life, of the family’s struggles with church attend...
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