An oral history of teens based on 60 interviews presenting a cross-section of the American cultural, economic, racial, and social spectrum. Oral historian Lewis (Hospital: An Oral History of Cook County Hospital, 1995) makes an admirable effort to present an all- encompassing portrait of contemporary teens, but an overly ambitious agenda results in an ultimately unsatisfying book. What's most interesting—despite the overall plodding tone of the monologues—is the disturbing image of America in the '90s that's projected here. Drugs are everywhere. Not just for ten-year-olds in inner-city projects, but even in integrated suburban public schools, ``drugs are just full frontal in your face every day.'' Violence is also common in the lives of too many teens. Thirteen- year-old Manhattanite Melissa Tates recalls looking out of her window and seeing ``this lady walking with her baby carriage, and the bullet went right by her head.'' Melissa's nights are often disturbed by the sound of gunshots. And despite growing up with the threat of AIDS, many of the young people here speak quite casually about sex. Seventeen-year-old Jian Berry talks about her friends who ``get caught up in the moment . . . don't use condoms . . . and it's incredibly scary.'' Touched by such parental problems as mental illness, divorce, and economic instability, Lewis's subjects—some already raising their own children—have much to contend with. Yet most of these teens display enough resilience to give pep talks to their faltering parents, to remind their mothers to take their medication, and to serve as role models for their younger siblings. Some alarming material, ill-digested. Despite arresting or moving moments, this oral history would have benefitted by having a sharper focus, with fewer subjects and less of the consequent repetition. ($35,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-56584-282-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



American schools at every level, from kindergarten to postgraduate programs, have substituted ideological indoctrination for education, charges conservative think-tanker Sowell (Senior Fellow/Hoover Institution; Preferential Polices, 1990, etc.) in this aggressive attack on the contemporary educational establishment. Sowell's quarrel with "values clarification" programs (like sex education, death-sensitizing, and antiwar "brainwashing") isn't that he disagrees with their positions but, rather, that they divert time and resources from the kind of training in intellectual analysis that makes students capable of reasoning for themselves. Contending that the values clarification programs inspired by his archvillain, psychotherapist Carl Rogers, actually inculcate values confusion, Sowell argues that the universal demand for relevance and sensitivity to the whole student has led public schools to abdicate their responsibility to such educational ideals as experience and maturity. On the subject of higher education, Sowell moves to more familiar ground, ascribing the declining quality of classroom instruction to the insatiable appetite of tangentially related research budgets and bloated athletic programs (to which an entire chapter, largely irrelevant to the book's broader argument, is devoted). The evidence offered for these propositions isn't likely to change many minds, since it's so inveterately anecdotal (for example, a call for more stringent curriculum requirements is bolstered by the news that Brooke Shields graduated from Princeton without taking any courses in economics, math, biology, chemistry, history, sociology, or government) and injudiciously applied (Sowell's dismissal of student evaluations as responsible data in judging a professor's classroom performance immediately follows his use of comments from student evaluations to document the general inadequacy of college teaching). All in all, the details of Sowell's indictment—that not only can't Johnny think, but "Johnny doesn't know what thinking is"—are more entertaining than persuasive or new.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-02-930330-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet