A well-reported, passionate study of the triggers for failure and success within American urban education.

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THE LEGACY OF DUNBAR, AMERICA'S FIRST BLACK PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL

Broadcast journalist Stewart examines the legendary reputation for excellence of a historic, all-black Washington, D.C., high school, then documents the decline of that excellence in more recent decades.

Since both of her parents were graduates of Dunbar High School and now have successful careers, the author took an interest in the subject. Like so many other proud (and sometimes famous) Dunbar graduates, Stewart's parents felt dismay at how America's first black public high school let standards slip. But at the beginning of the 21st century, Dunbar, founded in 1870, seemed like yet another chaotic inner-city institution, with rowdy students the norm instead of the exception. Stewart is an able historian, and the saga of how blacks and influential whites managed to establish a school of the caliber of Dunbar in a viciously segregated society so soon after the Civil War is extraordinary and inspirational by any measure. The mostly chronological narrative is less lively as Stewart offers a contemporary catalog of educational horrors. So many authors before Stewart have chronicled problems similar to Dunbar's that reading might present a feeling of déjà vu for many readers. Stewart persuasively places significant blame on parents of contemporary Dunbar students for showing little or no involvement in the school activities of their children. The director of the marching band told Stewart that he had never met the parents of the participating children. The author suggests that the model of Barack Obama as a black president fails to work for teenagers who have never shown the interest or aptitude for learning subjects that will lead to a college education.

A well-reported, passionate study of the triggers for failure and success within American urban education.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61374-009-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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