Louisville Medicine Volume 65, Issue 8 - Page 16

By Robert Egan and Kurt Pitzer © 2010 St . Martin ' s Press
REVIEW

Eating with the Enemy

By Robert Egan and Kurt Pitzer © 2010 St . Martin ' s Press

Reviewed by
Arun K . Gadre , MD , FACS

The crisp cold air has settled over Prospect , Kentucky . I marvel at nature ’ s chemistry as chlorophyll turns into different shades of yellow and ochre , and bright red , before turning brown . Some of the trees have dropped their leaves . The migrating birds have moved on , and the song-birds are largely silent . The 45 th President of the United States is on his first trip to Asia . The dictator of the People ’ s Democratic Republic of North Korea has fired off missiles and is in the late stages of developing a system of delivering its lethal nuclear load onto United States territory . South Korea is understandably nervous , and like Japan , will protect itself by buying more armaments from the United States . The balance of trade promised during the elections may now actually become a reality . The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia intercepted an incoming missile over Riyadh a few days ago , and several important people in the Kingdom have been placed under arrest at the Ritz on allegations of corruption . The Russia Investigation is ongoing . New allegations about women being sexually harassed by powerful men are appearing with sordid regularity . The massacre of innocent churchgoers in Sutherland Springs , Texas , is barely a day old . The tranquility of this Kentucky autumn evening is a poor indicator of the global turmoil that might eventually affect us all , but for now , I am enjoying a hot cup of tea , and watching the tranquil scenery that surrounds me . I have just completed reading Robert Egan and Kurt Pitzer ’ s book Eating with the Enemy - How I Waged Peace with North Korea from My BBQ Shack in Hackensack ( St Martin ’ s Press , 2010 ). The book is an autobiographical account of one Robert “ Bobby ” Egan whom I had never heard about . The coauthor , Kurt

Pitzer , was very kind to sign and give me a copy . He has connections to Louisville ; Dr . and Mrs . Richard Levin are his in-laws .
Although the book was written in 2010 , it is timely . The relationship between the United States and North Korea has stayed frigid and is perhaps worse now , with no thaw in sight . It draws the curious reader in . For one thing , it is about a part of the world about which most of us know very little . For another , it is an improbable tale of an audacious private citizen , with no experience in diplomacy or government , trying to mold United States foreign policy , from Cubby ’ s BBQ shack in Hackensack , N . J .. Mr . Egan grew up in the tough neighborhood of Fairfield , N . J ., where bare-fisted brawls appear to have been a mode of recreation , and knowing a Mafia boss a sign of prestige . His father was a Korean War veteran who vehemently hated Communists , and remained untrusting of his son ’ s friendship with them . That friendship began quite innocently when Mr . Egan decided to help the United States by doing what he could to bring back POW / MIAs who had been unaccounted for in Southeast Asia . His first interaction appears to have been with a Vietnamese defector Le Quang Khai whom he hid in his own home from both the Vietnamese and the FBI .
In 1993 , his connection with the Vietnamese resulted in contact with individuals from North Korea working at the United Nations . Mr . Egan appears to have developed an almost compulsive obsession to get U . S . servicemen out of North Korea . This evolved into several attempts to wage peace with North Korea by befriending its ambassador to the United Nations . For someone from a modest background who had no real knowledge of diplomacy , his work brought him to the attention of Ross Perot , Senator Stewart Greenleaf , the New York Giants , Christian evangelicals , and the FBI .
14 LOUISVILLE MEDICINE
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