As a reader of your excellent magazine, I wish to take exception to C. John McCloskey’s review (“Circles of Hell,” March 1997) of Dr. Bernard Nathanson’s autobiography. I think it is all very well to applaud Nathanson’s decision to become a Christian and to rejoice that he no longer enriches himself on the corpses of the dead babies he has aborted, but what I do not understand is all the admiration being heaped on a man who has so far shown neither contrition nor humility. Instead of accepting responsibility for his evil actions, actions which from his new perspective put him on a level with such mass murderers as Hitler and Stalin, he now blames an abusive father. Perhaps I have missed the item in the newspapers, but I have not heard of Dr. Nathanson going personally to apologize to the families of his victims, nor have I heard of him giving all of his wealth away to an appropriate charity.

The reviewer’s motives are, in my opinion, beyond reproach, and those who know him have the highest regard for his character and intelligence. In this case, however, an excessive zeal in a good cause has clouded his judgment, and it was your job, sir, as editor of this magazine, to censor his enthusiasm or reject his review.

        —Thomas Fleming
Rockford, IL

Dr. Fleming Replies:

It goes without saying that I agree with both your strictures on the review and your admiration of the reviewer, who is known to both of us. However, I should point out that the integrity of our book review section is guaranteed by the autonomy given the senior editor for books and the freedom given to reviewers to express opinions with which the editors of Chronicles may disagree. We seek balance not by moderating the excesses of opinion but by printing both sides of the case, which is what we are doing in this exchange of letters.