A book of sorrows—and of surpassing importance.



Avowed integrationist Irons (Political Science/UC San Diego; A People’s History of the Supreme Court, not reviewed) powerfully summarizes Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka and argues compellingly that subsequent court cases have effected resegregation and the resurrection of Jim Crow.

The author grieves for what he views as the abandonment of the ideals of equal educational opportunity so eloquently advanced in 1954 by Thurgood Marshall and so painfully sought by children, parents, teachers, and even a few courageous politicians. Irons begins his damning indictment of retreat and racism with a swift history of the “education” of slaves (whites sometimes punished those uppity blacks who dared to write by cutting off the offending digits). He proceeds with a case-by-case examination of the Supreme Court’s handling of issues relating to racially segregated schools. For a brief time, Irons sees the Court endeavoring to guarantee to black Americans what the Constitution requires. Although he admires the political skills of Chief Justice Earl Warren (who achieved a 9-0 consensus among his colleagues on Brown), he regrets the concession to Southerners Warren was forced to accept, which permitted the phrase “all deliberate speed” to become a speed-bump of alpine proportions on the road to social progress. Irons reminds us that significant achievements like Brown and the integration of Little Rock schools were accompanied by substantial white resistance and violence, which went on for years, nowhere more brutally than in Boston’s anti-busing riots. Two portions of the story are particularly wrenching and depressing: the Supreme Court’s turn to the right courtesy of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush I, resulting in subsequent abatements of Brown; and the author’s recent visits to the five schools whose cases were clustered as Brown. In all of them, Irons found de facto segregation, and no better evidence exists for the failures of today’s educational policy than his poignant interviews with current students.

A book of sorrows—and of surpassing importance.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-88918-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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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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