A thick, thorough history as only an attorney could present.



A Gainesville, Florida, native focuses on his hometown and Alachua County to examine that state’s challenging task to end segregation.

As Gengler, a former corporate lawyer in Boston and Chicago, points out, that move was one of the most significant social changes in the United States since Reconstruction. Unfortunately, there was no road map and no magic tool kit to make it work. It all began with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which gave rise to freedom of choice, whereby students could apply to attend specific schools. The NAACP never accepted that as an end point, and few blacks moved to white schools. Funding problems, failed bond issues, a teacher’s strike, busing, and racial balancing were just some of the difficulties. In 1970, the Supreme Court ordered true integration of schools, which forced changes in curriculum and extracurricular activities and led to what the author calls episodic outbreaks of on-campus violence. Gengler, whose legal explanations are often prolix, focuses mostly on the courts and the herculean attempts of both black and white educators to ease the transition. The end of black schools seriously dampened the sense of community as well as the resources and creativity that created a wholesome environment. Brown was only the first lawsuit regarding desegregation; it was followed by Brown II and, more importantly, U.S. v. Jefferson County School Board in 1966. In that case, the judge ruled that the schools must take steps to end the dual-race model, but he gave no standard to evaluate the effectiveness of those steps. The Civil Rights Act restricted that ruling to de jure segregation—i.e., it didn’t carry over to schools segregated by residential patterns. There are few details or statistics omitted from this book, and explanations are exhaustive, but Gengler brings the characters involved to life, demonstrating their patience and dedication. After many failures, it was clear that reforms and rulings could only go so far; school leaders, teachers, parents, and students had to demand and work for change.

A thick, thorough history as only an attorney could present.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-948122-14-6

Page Count: 560

Publisher: RosettaBooks

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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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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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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