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Tell him you'll punish him if he doesn't stop hiding!; Those were the words Richard Pollak shouted down to his parents as he played hide-and-seek with his 11-year-old brother in the loft of a barn. Moments later Stephen slipped through a hole camouflaged by hay and fell to his death. To this day, Pollak remembers virtually nothing of that hot summer afternoon, as he recounts in his riveting new book. Pollak shines a powerful light on himself and his family in a memoir that is by turns investigative and introspective, a remarkably candid and probing reflection on the life-long impact of his brother's death, his own struggle with epilepsy (the falling sickness), and the elusiveness of memory. Readers will know Pollak as the author of, among other books, The Creation of Dr. B, his much-praised biography of Bruno Bettelheim, which exposed the many deceptions of the noted author and child psychotherapist. The New York Times Book Review called the work a startling and thorough account of a life of lies. The daily Times called it a devastating book, written with exquisite politeness. In After the Barn, Pollak brings the same nuance and toughness to his own life, producing a gripping story of how a family deals with tragedy, and with secrets. But it is also a testament to the bravery inherent in seeking the clues to one's intimate past, writes Daniel Okrent, first public editor of the New York Times, and author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.
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Richard Pollak's most recent book is After the Barn: A Brother's Memoir. His previous books include The Creation of Dr. B: A Biography of Bruno Bettelheim; The Colombo Bay, an account of his five-week voyage on a container ship after the 9/11 terror attacks; Up Against Apartheid: The Role and the Plight of the Press in South Africa, and The Episode, a novel that deals with epilepsy. He is a contributing editor of The Nation, which he has served as executive editor and literary editor. He has written for that weekly, and for Harper's, The Atlantic, The New York Times Book Review and other major magazines, and he co-founded and edited [More] magazine, the monthly journalism review that published in the 1970s. He was an associate editor at Newsweek, a political reporter at The Evening Sun in Baltimore, and a Poynter Fellow at Yale University, where he created and taught a course in The Politics of Journalism, which he also taught for several years at New York University.
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