A profoundly uplifting—and also a profoundly depressing- -account of the integration of Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. Forty years ago, when the US Supreme Court declared that school segregation was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, Beals was a schoolgirl in Little Rock. She knew that the good school in Little Rock, the one that would prepare her best for college, was Central High, and she wanted to be in the first group of black teenagers to integrate the school. Not everyone in her family or in the black population of the city supported her dream, fearing that such boat-rocking would bring a reign of violence. This memoir, based heavily on Beals's schoolgirl diary and her English-teacher mother's notes, explains how the 15-year-old decided to integrate Central High with eight classmates and what happened as a result of that decision. Beals's narrative is uplifting because she survived the ordeal, went on to college at San Francisco State University and Columbia University, worked as a reporter for NBC, and returned to Little Rock in 1987 to be greeted by then-governor Bill Clinton and a black Central High student-body president. The tale is depressing because unrelenting violence permeates every page, making a reader wonder (not for the first time, sadly) how human beings can harbor so much hatred. The violence jumps out of every paragraph for entire chapters—violence begat by Beals's white classmates, their parents, Little Rock rednecks with no connection to Central High, even the school's teachers. Arkansas governor Orval Faubus tacitly, and sometimes overtly, encouraged the violence. The goal was to drive the nine black students away from Central High before they could graduate. President Eisenhower responded by calling in federal troops to enforce the law, turning Central High into an armed battleground. The sense of immediacy in Beals's well-crafted account makes the events seem like they happened yesterday.

Pub Date: May 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-671-86638-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1994




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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992



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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