A powerful story of courage and hope that should inspire others to follow trailblazers like Steckel and his students.




Inspiring account of what it takes to overcome class and ethnic barriers to gain acceptance to college.

In 2006, Steckel was recruited to a new Brooklyn high school (the Secondary School for Research) from the college admissions program of a private Upper East Side school. He and his wife, Zasloff (co-author: Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance, 2008), chronicle the pitfalls he faced as he helped the students navigate the college-admissions process and worked with his existing network of admissions officers and support programs to qualify candidates in innovative and unorthodox ways. The success stories built foundations for others in applying and dealing with the stereotyping, racism and unconscious bias the students encountered as they advanced toward their goals of college admission. Steckel helped the students develop the resources to present their personal stories successfully. They also had to keep their eyes on the prize as they endured brutal misfortunes—e.g., the fire that destroyed Mike's home and put him in a shelter or the gang beating that nearly killed Dwight. Steckel was with them the entire way, celebrating successes and helping them overcome heartbreaking setbacks and bureaucratic inflexibility. He helped the students find programs in which potential college candidates from disadvantaged communities could pre-qualify through competitive recruitment—e.g., Questbridge and Posse, which work with Ivy League schools. The author also worked with them to meet deadlines, be on time for interviews and raise funds through scholarships. Of the 42 members of Steckel's first graduating class, 41 entered college, and they qualified for $1.8 million in scholarships. The next year's class was 75 strong and ready for another new beginning.

A powerful story of courage and hope that should inspire others to follow trailblazers like Steckel and his students.

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59558-904-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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