Books by David Levine

Released: March 1, 1995

A liberal critique of our schools and some ideas for possible solutions. The editors of Rethinking Schools, a grassroots journal on school reform based in Milwaukee, Wis., have collected 25 articles and interviews from the journal's eight-year run. Although in the book's foreword Senator Herbert Kohl, Democrat of Wisconsin, writes that Rethinking Schools resembles ``a good gumbo; it has many distinct flavors that retain their integrity while blending into a tasty and pungent whole,'' this assemblage lacks true diversity. It consists mainly of variations on a leftist critique. Nevertheless, this book is a good resource for anyone interested in the debate over our school system. It includes well-written and cogent articles on multiculturalism and anti-bias education by Henry Louis Gates Jr., among others, and offers criticisms of standard curricula as well as practical guidelines for change. Bill Bigelow, for example, explains how he deals with Columbus's discovery/invasion of the Americas by having his students critically evaluate textbooks on the subject, while Linda Christensen writes about the necessity of teaching formal English without devaluing students' distinctive ways of expressing themselves. (Christensen's piece is particularly well stated, probably because her own lower-class origins give her first-hand knowledge of the humiliation students feel when their speech is mocked by teachers and classmates.) The section on testing and tracking raises more questions about detracking—such as how to grade students fairly in a detracked classroom—than it answers. (Bigelow writes that he was forced to give a student a B because of his effort and improvement when a C would have been a generous grade for him in a regular grading system.) Criticisms of E.D. Hirsch, textbooks adopted in California, and Dr. Seuss's The Lorax are harsh and occasionally petty, and discussions of national policy issues provide no surprises. Not much news for those who are up on the subject, but a good overview for the interested layperson. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1994

With the capable help of sportswriter Levine (Life on the Rim, 1990), the smallest man ever to play in the NBA tells his story with warmth and humor. At 53'' Muggsy Bogues is an unlikely basketball star, but the Charlotte Hornets' pesky point guard is annually among the leaders in assists and steals, and he averages 10 points per game. Raised in the projects of East Baltimore, Bogues describes a tough life that included being shot when he was 5 years old and, at 12, watching his father go to prison for armed robbery. But there was always basketball, even if no one would take him seriously. He led his Dunbar High School team to 59 straight victories and national prominence in 1981 and '82 and was sought after by college coaches who were sharp enough to overlook his height. At Wake Forest, he averaged 14.8 points per game, collected 275 steals, and amassed an Atlantic Coast Conference record of 781 assists. He was drafted in the first round by the Washington Bullets in 1987 and became great friends with 76'' teammate Manute Bol (much to the delight of photographers). When Washington didn't protect him in the 1989 expansion draft, Bogues was thrilled to be selected by the Hornets. His career hit its stride when coach Gene Littles instituted ``an up-tempo offense'' with Bogues at the point. Later, with the additions of $84 million power forward Larry Johnson and, in 1992, center Alonzo Mourning, Bogues sparked the Hornets to a first-ever playoff appearance. Asked how he can play against men as much as a foot-and-a-half taller, he simply notes that ``the ball's on the floor more than it's in the air. And down there is Muggsland.'' A refreshingly good-natured sports biography by a man who's proud of his achievements but not an egomaniac. As he says, he's ``one happy little fella.'' (20 b&w photos, not seen) Read full book review >