BLACK PROFILES IN COURAGE

A LEGACY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN ACHIEVEMENT

A spirited collection of stories interspersed with the athlete-author's often clichÇd comments and observations. Former NBA basketball star Abdul-Jabbar (Kareem, 1990) contends that the accomplishments of African-Americans have—for the most part—deliberately been written out of the history books. Penned in a conversational tone, this book is meant to ``inform, encourage and inspire'' those ``young Americans who most need a heritage to embrace.'' Among those profiled here are some relatively obscure African-Americans, including Peter Salem, a slave who helped repel two British assaults at Bunker Hill, and Lewis H. Latimer, Thomas Edison's chief patent expert, who helped Edison usher in the age of electricity. Well-known African- Americans, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, are also covered. In addition to celebrating the achievements of blacks, the author is out to demythologize the accomplishments of supportive whites. Abraham Lincoln, for example, is referred to as ``the Late Emancipator,'' who ``deliberately delayed while black people died.'' Abdul-Jabbar surmises that historians have constantly denied credit to those blacks who were at the forefront of our nation's major historical events because ``it was too much of a contradiction to enlist blacks in the fight for freedom and then deny them those rights on the basis of their skin color.'' While many of Abdul-Jabbar's contentions are certainly valid, there is one major flaw to his thesis. Whereas his generation's textbooks did omit the contributions of blacks, this is not the case in the multicultural '90s. Many of the nation's current textbooks celebrate the contributions of minorities (especially Native Americans and African-Americans), often at the expense of dead white males. Even a decade after JFK's title, Black Profiles in Courage would have been a slam dunk. In 1996, though, it seems curiously behind the times. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-688-13097-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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