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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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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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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