THE MORAL COMPASS

STORIES FOR A LIFE'S JOURNEY

No moral ambiguities in another sweeping potpourri from the compiler of the 1993 bestselling Book of Virtues. From Disney's Pocahontas and its messages about greed and environmentalism to ironic Sufi parables of men more foolish than donkeys, every fairy tale has a moral. Some are more subtle than others. There's nothing subtle about the messages in this new assemblage of fables, inspirational biographies, poems, letters, and essays from the former secretary of education, presently an eloquent spokesman for traditional values. The stories are selected to offer children and young people ``unequivocal, reliable standards of right and wrong.'' This volume is organized according to life's passages, from earliest childhoodwith tales about how even the smallest children can learn to value obedience, family loyalty, and self-sacrificethrough adolescence, young adulthood, marriage, ``citizenship and leadership,'' and old age. For much of the material, Bennett foraged in turn-of-the-century schoolbooks. But there are also excerpts from such writers as Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekhov, Mark Twain, and even Raymond Carver and inspiring letters from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and George Washingtonthe last a general order against the use of profanity. From Native Americans, Africa, China, Scandinavia, Greek and Roman myth, and the Bible come tales of kings and princesses, saints and social workers, and poor people who profit spirituallyand often materiallyby working hard and helping others. No one can quarrel with hard work and family loyalty as moral lodestones, but in a world where, for instance, hard work often pays off with a pink slip and family loyalty gives us a Susan Smith, the needle of the moral compass sometimes begins to swing wildly. Nevertheless, a colorful patchwork of pieces that are irresistible for bedtime reading aloud and as spurs to family discussions about whether, in the name of compassion, your offspring should bring home a naked stranger. (Literary Guild dual main selection)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 1995

ISBN: 0-684-80313-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1995

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

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more