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This companion volume to The Moral Life of Children (above) is much more sharply focused, probably because most children can be very articulate at expressing their feelings for their country and its political and social dynamics. Coles includes interviews from ten different countries whose children's voices resonate with pride, stridency, anger, resignation or defiance, depending on the political circumstances of their nations and how their families are affected. A 13-year-old white boy from Mississippi claims, ""We're better off than the rest of the world everywhere, and that means it's God giving us that extra boost."" A similar sense of divine inspiration is found in the worlds of a young Nicaraguan: ""Our country can't be destroyed . . .We'll keep fighting until up there in heaven Jesus Christ says: 'Enough, leave these people alone, because they belong to Me, and not to the North American generals and the big companies that run that country.'"" Northern Irish children lash out with hostility toward those they have been taught are their mortal enemies. A 13-year-old Polish boy calls the alien government imposed on his people ""a stupid system,"" and reviles the language of both Russia and Germany: ""The noises they make. . .It hurts. We hold our ears."" A French-Canadian boy, also alienated by language and culture, says of his English-speaking Canadian overlords, ""They think they're the best people in the world. They make you want to go and get a gun and fight."" An Afrikaans boy says, ""These tribes--if we left--the white people--they'd plunder everything, and then they'd leave. . ."" In the end, the striking fact is not so much what the children have absorbed of their parents' or their culture's views, but how the children articulate the unresolved political religious, class and cultural conflicts that energize and alienate the people of our planet. A chastening and recommended book.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 1985
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown