Eyal Press is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at Type Media Center and a 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. He is a contributor to the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Nation and numerous other publications. Press is a past recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. He is the author of Beautiful Souls (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012), an exploration of what animates individual acts of courage and conscience in dangerous circumstances, and Absolute Convictions (Picador, 2007), a narrative account of the abortion wars that racked the city of Buffalo, NY, and the medical practice of his father.
Press is currently working on a book about the dilemmas and inner lives of Americans who do society’s most hidden, morally tainted jobs, controversial tasks that society depends on and tacitly condones but that are veiled from scrutiny. The book will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Jessica Robertson got sick working as an inspector at a poultry plant. Now she’s speaking out to defend workers exposed to chemicals.
Even soldiers who fight wars from a safe distance have found themselves traumatized. Could their injuries be moral ones?
In 1970, the economist Albert Hirschman published a short book outlining the choices available to public officials confronted by immoral or dysfunctional behavior in office. By Eyal Press in the New Yorker.
Conservatives may indeed benefit more from Roe’s preservation than from its being overturned. By Eyal Press in the New Yorker.
In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards. By Eyal Press in the New Yorker.
History has produced many specimens of the banality of evil, but what about its flip side, what impels ordinary people to defy the sway of authority and convention? Through these dramatic stories of unlikely resisters, Eyal Press’ Beautiful Souls shows that the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not only by radicals seeking to overthrow the system but also by true believers who cling with unusual fierceness to their convictions. Drawing on groundbreaking research by moral psychologists and neuroscientists, this deeply reported work of narrative journalism examines the choices and dilemmas we all face when our principles collide with the loyalties we harbor and the duties we are expected to fulfill.
Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America
On October 23, 1998, the Buffalo abortion provider Barnett Slepian was killed by a sniper’s bullet fired through the kitchen window of his home. Days later, police informed another local doctor, Shalom Press, that they had received a threat warning that he was “next on the list.” Within hours the Press household was under twenty-four-hour federal marshal protection. America’s violent struggle over abortion – which had already claimed the lives of five doctors and clinic workers – had come to Buffalo.
In Absolute Convictions, Eyal Press returns to his hometown seeking to understand how an issue many people thought was settled decades ago could inspire such rage. Press combines a retelling of his family’s experience with firsthand accounts of protesters arrested outside his father’s office, patients who braved the gauntlet of demonstrators, and politicians who attempted to appease both sides. Through the Press family and the city of Buffalo, a blue-collar town undergoing wrenching economic changes, we see, as never before, the people behind the absolute convictions that have divided our nation for the past three decades.
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