An interesting narrative killed off by its own bluster.

THE ADVENTURIST

MY LIFE IN DANGEROUS PLACES

If an inflated ego and unbridled machismo were all it took to write well, Pelton (The World’s Most Dangerous Places, not reviewed) would unseat Shakespeare.

Pelton lives an extreme lifestyle: he travels to Afghanistan, Borneo, and Algeria and hangs out with guerrilla groups. He dances with headhunters in Sarawak, survives a plane crash in Kalimantan, and plays with pirates on the Sulu Sea. The leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army thinks Pelton is a mercenary hired to kill him. Such stories would have to be told by Henry Kissinger to lose their innate excitement, but Pelton nevertheless destroys his narrative through his super-smug and self-congratulatory authorial stance. Comparing himself to figures no less epic than Hercules and Odysseus, he seems to have swallowed his own self-aggrandizing public-relations blitz, meanwhile dropping weighty existential melodrama (“I feel I am someone from his past and he is someone in my future”), outlandish exaggeration (“I will learn this hard African French or I will not survive”), and jaw-dropping clichés (“There is knowledge beyond books out here”) within the space of two paragraphs. All this blustering and posturing distracts incessantly from quieter narrative moments: the descriptions of his troubled childhood, his education at “the toughest boys school in North America,” his early years working in advertising, and his troubled relationship with his mother are related in a straightforward and affecting manner. Unfortunately, though, Pelton’s “Adventurist” persona returns. When one reads such lines as “Then she met me, someone who had the uncanny ability to not only read her mind but tell her what she was thinking and who she was,” it becomes difficult to keep a straight face.

An interesting narrative killed off by its own bluster.

Pub Date: June 20, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-49567-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more