Sam—what a perfect fit that name seemed for Samuel Lipman. Nobody I know ever called him Samuel. He was Sam, and within his circle of friends, and even enemies, if you said Sam, it was like saying Johnny (Carson), or Frank (Sinatra), or Michael (Jordan), everyone knew about whom you were talking. I’m fairly certain Sam would not have approved those Johnny, Frank, and Michael references; I’m fairly certain he would not have known who Michael Jordan is, though Sam was a sports fan in his youth.

Midway in his more than four-year battle with leukemia, while talking about quack cures for cancer, I mentioned to Sam that I had somewhere read that Steve McQueen, in the last months of his battle with cancer, had gone to Mexico in search of a cure not allowed in the United States. “Who,” asked Sam, after a pause, “is Steve McQueen?” Sam was then fifty-eight and had spent all his life in America; and I...


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