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A welcome account of politics in action, and for the best of causes.

A driving force in the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act looks back on a long career of activism.

“An Occupation Army of Cripples Has Taken Over the San Francisco Federal Building.” So shouted a newspaper headline in the wake of one particularly vocal protest. According to disability rights activist Heumann, that was fine. “People weren’t used to thinking of us as fighters—when they thought about us at all,” she observes. Until the 1980s, disabled people were largely made invisible, with no easy means of access to the systems of transportation, employment, and other goods that the rest of the population often takes for granted. The author, who was paralyzed after a bout of childhood polio, might have been shunted off to an institution, as one doctor recommended, which was the usual practice in 1949. Instead, her parents, orphans of the Holocaust, resisted. The system did not make much allowance for her outside such an institution. At first, she was taught by a teacher who came to her home for two and a half hours a week, then sent to “Health Conservation 21,” a New York school system program in which students were expected to remain “until we were twenty-one years old, at which point we were supposed to enter a sheltered workshop.” Instead, Heumann distinguished herself academically and got involved in the drafting of legislation that would effectively add disability to the classes of protected citizens under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To do so, she had to make the case that “discrimination against disabled people existed,” something that many people did not wish to acknowledge. Then she had to find allies inside government on top of battling a host of foes, including conservative politicians and businesses “worried about what ADA would cost, in time and money.” Heumann prevailed, and following passage of the ADA after years of agitation, she worked for the World Bank and was appointed a representative of the Obama administration to advance civil rights for disabled persons internationally.

A welcome account of politics in action, and for the best of causes.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1929-0

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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