At once heart-wrenching and heart-lifting is this record of four years that the author spent riding to the rescue of abused and neglected children. Parent was an Emergency Children's Service worker in New York City's child welfare system, one of the men and women who on nights and weekends investigate calls about children in danger. Parent (yes, he took a lot of flack about his name) came to public prominence when a baby died after he and another worker had visited a family in a mice- and drug-infested building and missed identifying the child as at ``imminent risk,'' that is, in immediate danger of death or serious injury. Official blame was placed elsewhere, but Parent agonized over the judgment for weeks. This compelling book is the result of his self-scrutiny. It includes what the author considers the most tragic and dramatic of the hundreds of cases he encountered. Here is the story of a mother who, anticipating Armageddon, urged her five children to jump out a 23rd-storey window; two leaped before help arrived. Another woman, convinced that she was hexed and seeing blood on the walls and broken glass in the food, had barricaded herself and her hungry children inside their apartment. In another horror story, a nine-year-old had beaten his five-year- old cousin to death. Amid the sad tales are often humorous sketches of Parent's colleagues and telling vignettes of the primitive working conditions—among other things, no place for children removed from their homes late at night to sleep except a straight chair. In the long anecdote that provides the title for the book, Parent comes to believe that even in cases where child welfare workers can do little, the work provides ``an opportunity to touch a life at a critical moment and make it better.'' Riveting stories, tuned to the headlines, that also defend the much maligned caseworkers who must make snap judgments under often bizarre circumstances in the field. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100204-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

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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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