``A TOTALLY ALIEN LIFE-FORM''

TEENAGERS

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

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

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

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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