An account that should easily resonate with Christian readers who have experienced trauma.

READ REVIEW

THE BLUE HOUSE

A debut author recalls his family’s struggles with poverty and his alcoholic father as well as the personal relationship with God that lent him guidance in times of hardship.

Simmons’ salad days are tied to being 6 years old and growing up in his family’s eponymous “Blue House” in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, in the latter half of the 1950s, a simpler time when life’s greatest questions could be answered by his mother while she worked at her ironing board. His father’s heavy drinking and inability to hold a regular job cost the boy this innocence, leaving the family nearly destitute, constantly moving to new, small, sometimes-unfinished, sometimes-decrepit homes. With little support, Simmons’ mother was forced to weather these adversities and disappointments in order to provide for her five children, often buying groceries on never-to-be-repaid credit and once resorting to picking cotton just to give the family a Christmas celebration. Through the intervention of active pastors and a short time with a loving, devout woman named Mrs. Tompkins, the reserved Simmons was able to cultivate a relationship with God that stayed with him throughout his life, granting him the support and answers he needed in a world far more complicated than his early days in the Blue House. Highly personal, much of the memoir reads like a Christian testimonial, as Simmons shares intimate conversations he had with God, not just concerning his problematic father, but also his mother’s and siblings’ safety in the face of abuse. Over the course of his life, he received similar protections and directions as he joined the National Guard, worked for General Electric, dipped a toe in politics, and started a family of his own, often advocating to friends and family about the word of the Lord. This is no casual religious text—it’s anti-abortion and concentrates regularly on Bible passages, with each chapter accompanied by pointed “Life Lessons” by Middlebrooks, using Simmons’ experiences as opportunities to introduce guide questions for Bible study. These emphatic lessons will likely appeal to Christian audiences with similar views. They are a mix of metaphors, Proverbs, and Scripture, with a focus on self-reflection and individual responsibility, both spiritual and secular.

An account that should easily resonate with Christian readers who have experienced trauma.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-2161-9

Page Count: 248

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2017

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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