Pure gold for readers in search of role models who buck conventional masculine expectations.

GROUNDBREAKING GUYS

40 MEN WHO BECAME GREAT BY DOING GOOD

Single-page profiles of men who were guided by their better angels.

“History books are full of men who have made their mark,” Peters writes. “But these great men were not always good men.” So this atypical gallery focuses on men who served communities, demonstrated real respect for others, or otherwise acted on worthy principles. With one exception, men presented were born in or at least lived into the 20th century. That exception, John Stuart Mill, leads off for his then-radical notions about human (including women’s) rights and the “tyranny of the majority.” The ensuing multiracial, multinational roster mixes the predictable likes of Cesar Chavez, Thích Nhất Hạnh, and Roberto Clemente with Chinese diplomat Feng-Shan Ho (who helped “hundreds, and possibly thousands” of Jews escape Nazi-occupied Vienna), Indian child-labor activist Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai’s dad and champion, Ziauddin, transgender activist Kylar W. Broadus, and socially conscious creative artists including Lin-Manuel Miranda and Kendrick Lamar. Though intent on highlighting good works, the author doesn’t shy away from personal details—she identifies six entrants as gay and one, Freddie Mercury, as bisexual—or darker ones, such as Harvey Milk’s assassination and Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. Washington works with a severely limited menu of facial expressions, but each subject in his full-page accompanying portraits radiates confidence and dignity.

Pure gold for readers in search of role models who buck conventional masculine expectations. (source notes) (Collective biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-52941-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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Trots in all the tropes except the cherry tree, but the rosy glow may not be misplaced considering his predecessor.

JOE BIDEN

A BIOGRAPHY FOR YOUNG READERS

A hagiographic portrait of the United States’ newest president-elect.

Gormley begins with Biden’s working-class origins, then retraces his development as a “natural leader” from roguish, family-centered senior class president to responsible and still family-centered national one. Focusing as she goes on values or character-revealing anecdotes and sound bites (including multiple early predictions that he would grow up to be president), she turns his father’s motto “if you get knocked down, get up” into a thematic mantra. Gormley portrays his career as a heroic march to the White House past both political challenges and wrenching personal tragedies. The author mixes frank accounts of the latter with heartwarming family stories like the time his sons, then 6 and 7, sat him down in 1976 and told him to marry Jill Jacobs. The author presents Biden’s early positions on, for instance, same-sex marriage or crime as either evolving or errors acknowledged in retrospect, dismisses allegations of sexual harassment, and frames his verbal gaffes as just foibles: “Obama was ‘the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.’ Oops. Joe Biden had spoken without thinking.” Side looks at relevant topics from trickle-down economics to the Electoral College inelegantly interrupt the text but serve to fill in some of the historical background, and the tactics and failures of the Trump administration, particularly to address the Covid-19 pandemic, get a good airing. The narrative ends the weekend after Election Day with an analysis of the challenges ahead. No illustrations or index were seen.

Trots in all the tropes except the cherry tree, but the rosy glow may not be misplaced considering his predecessor. (source notes) (Biography. 11-13)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7932-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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This insightful, compelling account is an excellent introduction to Bonhoeffer and a perceptive look at what makes someone...

THE PLOT TO KILL HITLER

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER: PASTOR, SPY, UNLIKELY HERO

The story of theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s brief but notable life is related in the context of his resistance to the Nazis and association with the 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

McCormick discusses formative experiences that shaped Bonhoeffer’s theological views: visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, studying with such influential American theologians as Frank Fisher and Reinhold Niebuhr at Union Theological Seminary, worshipping at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, and his friendship with Rabbi Stephen Wise. Bonhoeffer’s resistance to Hitler intensified with the systematic persecution of Jews and the co-option of the German Church. In protest, Bonhoeffer co-founded the Pastor’s Emergency League and, later, the breakaway Confessing Church. As a member of an organized conspiracy to overthrow Hitler, Bonhoeffer was a courier and spy passing information to Allied representatives about Nazi atrocities and resistance activities. He was executed in 1945 for his involvement. Novelist McCormick pens a gripping narrative, adeptly developing Bonhoeffer’s character and exploring his struggle to reconcile his pacifism with being part of the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler. Some subjects, such as the Confessing Church and figures like Pastor Martin Niemöller, warrant further explanation, however.

This insightful, compelling account is an excellent introduction to Bonhoeffer and a perceptive look at what makes someone stand up for what’s right. (photos, timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-241108-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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