THE PERFECT VEHICLE

WHAT IT IS ABOUT MOTORCYCLES

An entertaining vade mecum for the aspiring Dennis Hopper, Evel Knievel, or Malcolm Forbes of the family. Magazine journalist Pierson sets out to explore the motorcycle mystique, her account ranging from peeks at by now tired icons like the Marlon Brando of The Wild Ones to fresher elements like the nascent French biker culture. (The French, of course, have an elaborate classification system to distinguish true bikers from les sportifs, the sham articles.) She calls the fixation with bikes ``motolust,'' and she admits to being a victim herself, one of the growing number of women who reject the phallic-substitute imagery long associated with ``chicks on bikes'' for what is, all in all, a fun ride in the open air. Pierson takes the reader on wild spins, hitting cross-country races and motocross tournaments up and down the East coast, cataloging the thrills and, especially, the manifold dangers that await, all the little things that can quickly send a biker to the grave: ``wet leaves, gravel, sand, decreasing-radius turns, painted lines, tar patches liquefying in the sun, antifreeze, oil deposits at gas stations or toll booths, metal plates and manhole covers made deadly by rain . . .'' Pierson is often funny, frequently deep, occasionally sharp-edged, and almost always right on the money. She is also fully aware of her minority status within a minority culture—as she notes, only 7 million Americans ride motorcycles, as against 20 million who call themselves bird-watchers—and she does her best to convey the spirit of motorcycling to the countless uninitiated. You don't have to be a two-wheel devotee to appreciate Pierson's work, but it probably helps. Still, even if you don't much care for motorcycles—or your mother wouldn't let you ride one—this engaging treatise (part of which appeared in Harper's) is worth a look. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-393-04064-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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