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...
Author: Amanda Bennett
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).
"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." - Redbook
"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."--Bookpage "[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 clin - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)