Worth Dying For

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lewis M. Simons won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from the Philippines. His book fills out the background of the Philippine Revolution by showing how Marcos’ corruption, ill health, and arrogance eventually alienated both the exploited lower class and the increasingly insecure middle class. Even though his opposition was divided and seemingly powerless to challenge his command over the military and political institutions of the country, Marcos and his wife overstepped themselves by taking every opportunity to enhance their personal fortune and prestige. The assassination of Benigno Aquino--Marcos’ equal as a politician--ignited public opinion in the search for a figure who could carry on Aquino’s legacy. His wife, much to everyone’s surprise, developed the dignity and shrewdness, the tenacity, and the moral authority needed to unseat her wily opponent.

Even those who followed events in the Philippines closely in the newspapers are likely to be impressed by this book. Simons unravels the details of a failed military coup d’etat that played directly into Corazon Aquino’s quest for a nonviolent revolution. Simons’ interviews with the principal figures (including Marcos), his astute judgments of the political scene and of Philippine history, and his clear style make his book fascinating reading. There is, however, one disappointment: Although he shows how circumstances helped transform Aquino into the foremost representative of “people power,” Simons is curiously reticent about her character. Thus, while he delves into her background briefly, this extraordinary woman never quite comes alive in his narrative.