An accessible introduction to a 20th-century icon.

Jane Jacobs fought for livable communities.

New York City–based neighborhood organizer, urban visionary, and Vietnam War protester: Jacobs wore a lot of hats as a “public intellectual” in the mid-20th century, but she is perhaps best known today for opposing “slum clearance” and supporting neighborhoods. Pitts’ biography is smoothly written and engaging. She highlights Jacobs’ major campaigns and the strategies she promoted. She makes clear both the power of those Jacobs fought against (especially classist and racist developer Robert Moses) and the effectiveness of less powerful but determined people who banded together. The author occasionally uses invented dialogue or adapted quotations to smooth the storytelling in this conversational work that frequently addresses readers directly. Beginning with Jacobs’ Pennsylvania childhood in a “typical American upper-middle-class white Protestant suburban family in the 1920s,” it traces many of her remarkable achievements but notably is not uncritically laudatory. For example, Pitts describes Jacobs’ initial resistance to acknowledging the impact of racism, rejecting her editor’s request that she consider the role of race on Black city residents in her seminal 1961 publication, The Death and Life of Great American Cities—although some years later, she did change her mind. Occasional black-and-white photos supplement the text; a greater number would have helped readers better envision many of the concepts and locations introduced. Overall, however, this is an engaging work that places a significant figure in historical context.

An accessible introduction to a 20th-century icon. (author’s note, resources, notes, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781644212998

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023



Fans of all things martial will echo his “HOOYAH!”—but the troubled aftermath comes in for some attention too.

Abridged but not toned down, this young-readers version of an ex-SEAL sniper’s account (SEAL Team Six, 2011) of his training and combat experiences in Operation Desert Storm and the first Battle of Mogadishu makes colorful, often compelling reading.

“My experiences weren’t always enjoyable,” Wasdin writes, “but they were always adrenaline-filled!” Not to mention testosterone-fueled. He goes on to ascribe much of his innate toughness to being regularly beaten by his stepfather as a child and punctuates his passage through the notoriously hellacious SEAL training with frequent references to other trainees who fail or drop out. He tears into the Clinton administration (whose “support for our troops had sagged like a sack of turds”), indecisive commanders and corrupt Italian “allies” for making such a hash of the entire Somalian mission. In later chapters he retraces his long, difficult physical and emotional recovery from serious wounds received during the “Black Hawk Down” operation, his increasing focus on faith and family after divorce and remarriage and his second career as a chiropractor.

Fans of all things martial will echo his “HOOYAH!”—but the troubled aftermath comes in for some attention too. (acronym/ordinance glossary, adult level reading list) (Memoir. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-250-01643-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012



A solid and captivating look at these remarkable pioneers of modern fiction.

The wild freedom of the imagination and the heart, and the tragedy of lives ended just as success is within view—such a powerful story is that of the Brontë children.

Reef’s gracefully plotted, carefully researched account focuses on Charlotte, whose correspondence with friends, longer life and more extensive experience outside the narrow milieu of Haworth, including her acquaintance with the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, who became her biographer, revealed more of her personality. She describes the Brontë children’s early losses of their mother and then their two oldest siblings, conveying the imaginative, verbally rich life of children who are essentially orphaned but share both the wild countryside and the gifts of story. Brother Branwell’s tragic struggle with alcohol and opium is seen as if offstage, wounding to his sisters and his father but sad principally because he never found a way to use literature to save himself. Reef looks at the 19th-century context for women writers and the reasons that the sisters chose to publish only under pseudonyms—and includes a wonderful description of the encounter in which Anne and Charlotte revealed their identities to Charlotte’s publisher. She also includes brief, no-major-spoilers summaries of the sisters’ novels, inviting readers to connect the dots and to understand how real-life experience was transformed into fiction.

A solid and captivating look at these remarkable pioneers of modern fiction.   (notes and a comprehensive bibliography) (Biography. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-57966-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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