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Both personal and historical, this is a welcome book on the importance of education for all.

Elevating the thinking around school improvements, from the nuts-and-bolts ideas to a broader view.

Most parents, teachers and others involved in the education of children and teens would agree that nearly every school could use improvement in certain areas. There are, of course, dozens of useful books on the education shelf, but Buzbee (The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History, 2006, etc.) provides a bracing rejoinder to the didactic, data-driven books from policy gurus and social scientists. Where other authors draw on research studies and have specific case studies that serve as the frosting on the cake, the author starts from his own experience and leapfrogs back in time to explore various educational practices and their origins. The blackboard itself was invented back in 1800. Students were using their portable blackboards to practice writing and arithmetic in school and at home when George Baron thought to connect a series of them on the wall to teach broader and more complex formulas to a larger audience of students. Buzbee writes of the different views of the teacher in the front, from the “lecturing chalk-and-talk” droners who fail to reach students to those who serve as “a lens through which the lesson is created and clarified.” From the layout of schools to the distinction between “middle school” and “junior high school,” Buzbee spreads engaging prose across the pages, providing both a reminiscence of better days and a considered examination of the assumptions we all make about what does—and does not—constitute a quality education. In the epilogue, he offers a series of proposals, noting the importance of raising teacher salaries—and yes, even if that means raising taxes. “And to prove my seriousness, let me be the one to say it first,” he writes. “You may read my lips: Raise my taxes! can raise my taxes through the roof…raise them to Swedish levels, to ‘socialist’ levels.”

Both personal and historical, this is a welcome book on the importance of education for all.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55597-683-5

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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