A cracking good read, something that all too few essay anthologies manage to be.

BEST AFRICAN AMERICAN ESSAYS: 2009

Inaugural edition of a new series proves that there’s always room for another delivery method for quality short nonfiction.

Series editor Early (English, African and African-American Studies/Washington Univ.; This Is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s, 2003, etc.) and guest editor Dickerson (The End of Blackness, 2004, etc.) have gathered a vibrant mix of voices that belies the volume’s anodyne label. Early states up front his ecumenical goal: collecting the best essays authored by African-Americans. Even at that, he leaves the door open for others to write on racial issues; many will be surprised to see Andrew Sullivan’s chest-swelling ode to Barack Obama concluding the volume. Whatever the criteria involved, the book is a solid piece of work gathered from a wide range of publications (the New Yorker, Vibe, the St. Petersburg Times, etc.), loosely collected into subject buckets like “Activism/Political Thought” and “Internationally Black.” Early’s contribution, “Dancing in the Dark,” is a smart take on race and the South in film that recasts To Kill a Mockingbird as possibly more insidious than even Birth of a Nation. Emily Raboteau’s “Searching for Zion,” a labyrinthine account of her odyssey to reconcile her blackness with the spiritual quest for Jerusalem, is a masterpiece, as is Bill Maxwell’s sad three-parter about his disillusioning stint as a professor at a historically black college. Between these long-form classics crowd a host of shorter, divergent viewpoints. The effect is something like a loud family dinner with plenty of opinionated relatives who don’t always get along. Right-wing scold John McWhorter pops by to complain about the lack of American identity in modern youth, and Chloé Hilliard talks brashly about young black lesbians in Brooklyn acting just as gangsta as the boys. Meanwhile, off to the sides where it’s quieter, Obama writes of reincorporating faith into the progressive dialogue, and Malcolm Gladwell offers fresh insights into what I.Q. testing actually measures. There are a few weak selections (Michael Eric Dyson, we’re looking in your direction); fortunately, they are on the shorter side.

A cracking good read, something that all too few essay anthologies manage to be.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-553-80691-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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