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A Black Man's Journey from Sharecropper to College President

THE LIFE AND WORK OF WILLIAM JOHNSON TRENT, 1873-1963

A recommended biography that offers a welcome addition to the roster of lesser-known, pioneer African-American educators.

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A biography of the remarkable African-American educator William Johnson Trent (1873-1963) that gives readers a close look at the tumultuous times of his long life.

Trent was born in North Carolina in 1873 to an African-American mother, Malinda Johnson, and a white father, Edward Trent, who eventually left them. Malinda then married an African-American man named Mack Dunn; they were sharecroppers, which was a hard life. But young William showed promise, and by scrimping, they managed to start him on the path to education, which eventually led him to Livingstone College, the first black-founded and -run school of higher education in North Carolina. Trent was a stellar student and also proved himself to be a natural leader and organizer. After graduation, he put those talents to work, involving himself with the YMCA as secretary for the all-black Third North Carolina Volunteer Regiment and with the Young Men’s Institute. It quickly became apparent that if a situation was dire, involving a lack of funds or a lack of membership, Trent could solve the problem; time and again, he worked slow, patient miracles. After Reconstruction, the era of Jim Crow, Ku Klux Klan attacks, and lynchings prevailed well into the 20th century. Trent walked a fine line between dignity and despair during this time, during which he was twice widowed. Finally, in 1925, he was made president of his alma mater—an institution in financial straits that was saved, eventually, by his strong hand. In these difficult times, the story of a well-lived, selfless life like William Johnson Trent’s provides a welcome uplift. Scales-Trent, a retired academic from the State University of New York at Buffalo, is Trent’s granddaughter, and her book is clearly a labor of love. Her biography is largely well-written, as in the opening, which addresses the predicament of newly freed slaves in an epic style: “They heard the news from black people walking down the road, from Union soldiers riding by on their horses, perhaps from the slave master himself. And so they left.” That said, there are long stretches of fairly numbing detail, particularly involving financial woes. Of necessity, the author also often qualifies events with “probably” and “we can assume.” However, the book is exhaustively documented and indexed, and it also includes some period photographs.

A recommended biography that offers a welcome addition to the roster of lesser-known, pioneer African-American educators. 

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942545-46-0

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Monroe Street Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

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

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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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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