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spoko

spoko

Currently reading

The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia
David E. Hoffman
The Master and Margarita
Mikhail Bulgakov, Diana Burgin, Katherine Tiernan O'Connor
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Arun Gandhi, Marshall B. Rosenberg
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Eric Metaxas, Timothy Keller
Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
Taylor Branch
The Path to Power
Robert A. Caro
The Nature of Nebraska: Ecology and Biodiversity
Paul A. Johnsgard
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original
Robin D.G. Kelley
Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America - Jonathan Kozol
I probably would have enjoyed this book more if I had re-read Amazing Grace before reading this. I remembered a few of these people, but not most. Taken on its own, then, this book is interesting but not exactly gripping. It leans pretty heavily on Kozol's personal relationships with these particular individuals. And it does paint picture after picture of individual people rising out of the systematic oppression described in books like Amazing Grace and Savage Inequalities. Kozol does specifically refute that glossy worldview in a beautifully vicious epilogue, pointing out that so much of the success in the book "depends upon the charitable inclinations of a school or philanthropic donors, and charity has never been a substitute, not in any amplitude, for systematic justice and systematic equity in public education." Another quote I just have to share:
For the children of a ghettoized community, the pre-existing context created by the social order cannot be lightly written off by cheap and facile language about ‘parental failings’ or by the rhetoric of ‘personal responsibility,’ which is the last resort of scoundrels in the civic and political arena who will, it seems, go to any length to exculpate America for its sins against our poorest people.
I wish the rest of the book had as much to say as the epilogue, not to mention that it had said it with as much passion. I didn't put the book down, so I guess I'd say it was worth reading. But I can't really recommend it, unless you really do just want a follow-up on Amazing Grace.