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University of Iowa News Release

March 16, 2006

Famed Journalist/Historian James Reston Turns Personal On WSUI March 27

Famed journalist and historian James Reston will read from his new book, "Fragile Innocence: A Father's Memoir of His Daughter's Courageous Journey," at 7 p.m. Monday, March 27, on the "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910.

Julie Englander will host the broadcast, which will originate in a free event in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen on the Internet at

Reston's daughter Hillary was stricken by a mysterious disease that forever changed her life and the life of her family.

Critic Donna Chavez wrote for Booklist, "When Hillary was born, in 1981, she was a happy-surprise third child for Reston and his wife, Denise. Midway through her second year, the energetic, verbal child suffered a five-day-long fever that doctors wrote off as a 'viral syndrome' treatable with Tylenol. Hillary appeared to recover. Within two months, however, she began to regress developmentally, to lose the ability to speak and to understand spoken words. Most frightening, she was having what were called 'brain storms,' in which she presented seizure-type symptoms with violent outbursts.

"Thus began the Restons' two-decade quest to identify Hillary's disorder and cure her, and to treat her symptoms and carve out a family life around her mounting needs. They never succeeded in finding out what had happened, but they ultimately were able to give Hillary, their other children, and one another lives overflowing with love and support."

A Publishers Weekly explained, "Hillary suffers from constant, harrowing seizures and severe kidney malfunction that puts her on dialysis for nearly 20 years (she's now 24). Endless visits with specialists, tests and laboratory experimentation wears down the family, which includes Reston's wife, civil rights attorney Denise Leary, who puts her career on hold so she can be Hillary's primary caregiver; and Hillary's nurturing and protective older siblings.

"Reston shifts between relating the ordinariness of family life; the struggles with his own career, which often takes him away from home; the nonstop quest for answers regarding Hillary's condition (a stroke or obscure genetic illness); and finally, Hillary's kidney transplant. Reston makes an impassioned case for embryonic stem cell experiments, human cloning, animal organ transplants and other means to delay or cure devastating diseases in children."

Reston's previous books include "Warriors of God," "The Last Apocalypse," "Galileo: A Life" and "Dogs of God."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,