Who would think that a story of 25 years of bureaucratic struggle could be so interesting? Perhaps it's because the struggle is over Head Start, the preschool program born of the ideals of the War on Poverty and the activism of the civil-rights movement. Zigler (Psychology/Yale; Project Head Start—co-ed., 1979) was there at the beginning as a member of the Head Start planning committee and later as director of the Office of Child Development, which shaped Head Start. Coauthor Muenchow wrote a 1980 report on Head Start with Zigler and is now executive director of the Florida Children's Forum. Their story is one of shifting alliances, dedicated civil servants, political strategy, surprising heroes (Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch), unsuspected villains (Vice-President Walter Mondale), and a community of parents and teachers who slowly gathered strength and political sophistication until President Bush recently asked Congress for a $600 million increase in Head Start's budget. What sets Head Start apart from other preschool programs that serve disadvantaged communities is its health-check program- -entering four- and five-year-olds receive medical and dental assessments and have their immunizations brought up to date—and its insistence on direct parental involvement in the program. Although evaluation efforts have been problematical—even Zigler suggests that the improved health of the Head Start children rather than the enriched curriculum may be responsible for their improved performance in school—Head Start is both a real and a perceived success. Still fighting to upgrade the program, the authors offer a final chapter advocating how Head Start can be modified (by increasing salaries and social and health services) and even expanded (by opening the program to younger children) to support suggested welfare reforms. A case study in how determination, dedication, and a good cause can bring about social and educational innovation.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 1992

ISBN: 0-465-03316-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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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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