The book’s precise focus enables troubling considerations of the role of race and class in America.

THE HUSTLE

ONE TEAM AND TEN LIVES IN BLACK AND WHITE

In his debut, journalist Merlino traces the lives of his integrated junior-high basketball team and what happened to the players when the games stopped.

In 1986, Coach Willie McClain brought his basketball players, all black, from Seattle’s inner city to the affluent suburbs to form a team with a group of white players. For a single season, these young boys—who couldn’t have been more different—shared an initially wary then ebullient camaraderie that transcended race and class. But what happened after the season, asks the author, as these players made the transition from boys to men? Merlino returned to Seattle to find his old teammates and tell their stories. In one way or another, the white players all made their way; for the black players, however, the story was mixed. Through connections developed as a result of the team, all had the chance to attend quality private schools. Some adjusted, some didn’t. At 19, Tyrell was murdered; 20 years on, JT still hustled on the street; Myran was in prison. All were lured by the seemingly easy money of drug dealing as crack devastated their Seattle neighborhood in the late ’80s. Yet there were successes. Damian became a teacher and a preacher, Eric an auditor for the city with a solid middle-class life. None of the black players, however, lived without struggles in a class and racially divided Seattle. Merlino skillfully weaves the personal biographies with the biography of a city that relegated blacks to neighborhoods that were segregated and poor, to the margins of economic life, to public schools that were overcrowded and underfunded. He tells the story of the dispersal of Central Seattle’s black population, as Microsoft and Starbucks made it ripe for gentrification. But the heart of Merlino’s story is his teammates, black and white. He misses their youth and promise and loves and respects them all.

The book’s precise focus enables troubling considerations of the role of race and class in America.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60819-215-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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INSIDE AMERICAN EDUCATION

THE DECLINE, THE DECEPTION, THE DOGMAS

American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

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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