In Savage Inequalities, Kozol delivers a searing examination of the extremes of wealth and poverty and calls into question the reality of equal opportunity in our nation’s schools.
Over the past several years, Jonathan Kozol has visited nearly 60 public schools. Virtually everywhere, he finds that conditions have grown worse for inner-city children in the 15 years since federal courts began dismantling the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. First, a state of nearly absolute apartheid now prevails in thousands of our schools. The segregation of black children has reverted to a level that the nation has not seen since 1968. Few of the students in these schools know white children any longer. Second, a protomilitary form of discipline has now emerged, modeled on stick-and-carrot methods of behavioral control traditionally used in prisons but targeted exclusively at black and Hispanic children. And third, as high-stakes testing takes on pathological and punitive dimensions, liberal education in our inner-city schools has been increasingly replaced by culturally barren and robotic methods of instruction that would be rejected out of hand by schools that serve the mainstream of society.
Filled with the passionate voices of children and their teachers and some of the most revered and trusted leaders in the black community, The Shame of the Nation is a triumph of firsthand reporting that pays tribute to those undefeated educators who persist against the odds, but directly challenges the chilling practices now being forced upon our urban systems by the Bush administration. In their place, Kozol offers a humane, dramatic challenge to our nation to fulfill at last the promise made some 50 years ago to all our youngest citizens.
From The Shame of the Nation
“I went to Washington to challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations,” the president said in his campaign for reelection in September 2004. “It’s working. It’s making a difference.” It is one of those deadly lies, which, by sheer repetition, is at length accepted by large numbers of Americans as, perhaps, a rough approximation of the truth. But it is not the truth, and it is not an innocent misstatement of the facts. It is a devious appeasement of the heartache of the parents of the poor and, if it is not forcefully resisted and denounced, it is going to lead our nation even further in a perilous direction.
Also available as a Random House AudioBook and an eBook
From the Hardcover edition.
For nearly fifty years Jonathan has pricked the conscience of his readers by laying bare the savage inequalities inflicted upon children for no reason but the accident of being born to poverty within a wealthy nation. A winner of the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and countless other honors, he has persistently crossed the lines of class and race, first as a teacher, then as the author of tender and heart-breaking books about the children he has called “the outcasts of our nation’s ingenuity.” But Jonathan is not a distant and detached reporter. His own life has been radically transformed by the children who have trusted and befriended him.
Never has this intimate acquaintance with his subjects been more apparent, or more stirring, than in Fire in the Ashes, as Jonathan tells the stories of young men and women who have come of age in one of the most destitute communities of the United States. Some of them never do recover from the battering they undergo in their early years, but many more battle back with fierce and, often, jubilant determination to overcome the formidable obstacles they face. As we watch these glorious children grow into the fullness of a healthy and contributive maturity, they ignite a flame of hope, not only for themselves, but for our society.
The urgent issues that confront our urban schools – a devastating race-gap, a pathological regime of obsessive testing and drilling students for exams instead of giving them the rich curriculum that excites a love of learning – are interwoven through these stories. Why certain children rise above it all, graduate from high school and do well in college, while others are defeated by the time they enter adolescence, lies at the essence of this work.
Jonathan Kozol is the author of Death at an Early Age, Savage Inequalities, and other books on children and their education. He has been called “today’s most eloquent spokesman for America’s disenfranchised.” But he believes young people speak most eloquently for themselves; and in this book, so full of the vitality and spontaneity of youth, we hear their testimony.
THE BOSTON GLOBE
There is no safety net for the millions of heartbroken refugees from the American Dream, scattered helplessly in any city you can name. RACHEL AND HER CHILDREN is an unforgettable record for humanity, of the desperate voices of the men, women, and especially children, and their hourly struggle for survival, homeless in America.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Like his most recent book, Amazing Grace, this work also takes place in New York's South Bronx; but it is a markedly different book in mood and vantage point, because we see life this time through the eyes of children, not, as the author puts it, from the perspective of a grown-up man encumbered with a Harvard education. Here, too, we see devoted teachers in a good but underfunded public elementary school that manages, against all odds, to be a warm, inviting, and protective place; and we see the children also in the intimate religious setting of a church in which they are watched over by the vigilant grandmothers of the neighborhood and by a priest whose ministry is, first and foremost, to the very young.
A work of guarded optimism that avoids polemic and the fevered ideologies of partisan debate, Ordinary Resurrections is a book about the little miracles of stubbornly persistent innocence in children who are still unsoiled by the world and still can view their place within it without cynicism or despair. Sometimes playful, sometimes jubilantly funny, and sometimes profoundly sad, they're sensitive children, by and large -- complex and morally insightful -- and their ethical vitality denounces and subverts the racially charged labels that the world of grown-up expertise too frequently assigns to them.
The author's personal involvement with specific children deepens as the narrative evolves. A Jewish man, now 63 years old, he finds his own religious speculations growing interwoven with the moral and religious explorations of the children, some of whom have been his friends for nearly seven years. The children change, of course, from year to year as they learn more about the world; but the author is changed also by the generous and tender ways in which the children, step by step, unlock their secrets and unveil the mysteries of their belief to him.
Salvation in these stories comes not from the promises of politicians or the claims of sociology but from the ordinary resurrections that take place routinely in the hearts of children. "We all lie down," a theologian tells the author. "We all rise up. We do this every day." So, too, when given a fair chance, do many of the undervalued urban children of our nation. In this book, we see some beautiful children as they rise, and rise again.
Letters to a Young Teacher reignites a numberof the controversial issues Jonathan has powerfully addressed in recent years: the mania of high-stakes testing that turns many classrooms into test-prep factories where spontaneity and critical intelligence are no longer valued, the invasion of our public schools by predatory private corporations, and the inequalities of urban schools that are once again almost as segregated as they were a century ago.
But most of all, these letters are rich with the happiness of teaching children, the curiosity and jubilant excitement children bring into the classroom at an early age, and their ability to overcome their insecurities when they are in the hands of an adoring and hard-working teacher.
From the Hardcover edition.
In Illiterate America, Jonathan Kozol, author of National Book Award-winning Death at an Early Age, addresses this national disgrace. Combining hard statistics and heartrending stories, he describes the economic and the human costs of illiteracy. Kozol analyses and condemns previous government action—and inaction—and, in a passionate call for reform, he proposes a specific program to conquer illiteracy.
One out of every three American adults cannot read this book—which is why everyone else must.
National Book Award winner Jonathan Kozol is best known for his fifty years of work among our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable children. Now, in the most personal book of his career, he tells the story of his father’s life and work as a nationally noted specialist in disorders of the brain and his astonishing ability, at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, to explain the causes of his sickness and then to narrate, step-by-step, his slow descent into dementia.
Dr. Harry Kozol was born in Boston in 1906. Classically trained at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, he was an unusually intuitive clinician with a special gift for diagnosing interwoven elements of neurological and psychiatric illnesses in highly complicated and creative people. “One of the most intense relationships of his career,” his son recalls, “was with Eugene O’Neill, who moved to Boston in the last years of his life so my father could examine him and talk with him almost every day.” At a later stage in his career, he evaluated criminal defendants including Patricia Hearst and the Boston Strangler, Albert H. DeSalvo, who described to him in detail what was going through his mind while he was killing thirteen women.
But The Theft of Memory is not primarily about a doctor’s public life. The heart of the book lies in the bond between a father and his son and the ways that bond intensified even as Harry’s verbal skills and cogency progressively abandoned him. “Somehow,” the author says, “all those hours that we spent trying to fathom something that he wanted to express, or summon up a vivid piece of seemingly lost memory that still brought a smile to his eyes, left me with a deeper sense of intimate connection with my father than I’d ever felt before.”
Lyrical and stirring, The Theft of Memory is at once a tender tribute to a father from his son and a richly colored portrait of a devoted doctor who lived more than a century.
From the Hardcover edition.
The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism--now fully revised and updated
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.
"An unusually sensitive work about the racial barriers that still divide us in so many areas of life."-Jonathan Kozol
"Raw sewage" and "jail" may not be the first words that come to mind in terms of what might be found in a treatise on public school funding. Yet, these terms, along with privilege, poverty, racism, injustice, wealth, and equity/inequity, sum up the major themes of "Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools," one of nearly a dozen books about the state of American public school education by Jonathan Kozol.
The book was researched and written in the late 1980's and published in 1991 as the seventh in Kozol's ongoing critique of the myriad failures of education of American children, particularly children born into poverty. "Savage Inequalities" focuses on funding disparities between urban schools in the North, South, East and Midwest regions of the USA, and the lifetime impact these disparities have on the students, the teachers and the communities. These factors almost ensure, to use Kozol's phrasing, that the generals' children will have the option (and implied likelihood) of becoming generals, and the soldiers' children will only become soldiers, and only if they survive their public school experience.
Kozol, a former teacher, and writer, spent nearly three years traveling around the United States, visiting public schools, and talking with then current and former students, teachers, principals, district administrators and students' families. He observed classes and describes (often in painful detail) the facilities, and the communities in the school. He enumerates, again and again throughout the book about, the canyon-sized gaps in per-pupil spending between schools and districts that serve the children of the wealthy, who are most often white, and those that serve the children of the poor, who are most often black and Latino. Although, a school serving Appalachian children is also included among the under-served.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Deborah is a lifelong writer, non-violence activist, artist, voracious reader, public school teacher and world traveler and practical optimist. She lives by Thoreau's epigrammatic suggestion, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined...."
After growing up in a suburb of New York City, she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has lived since 1977. By day, Deborah teaches high school in Oakland, and when not at school, she makes it a point to enjoy the moveable feast (with apologies to Hemingway) offered up here every day.
She attended San Francisco State and Cal State East Bay/Hayward, which resulted in degrees in art and education, as well as a couple of teaching credentials.
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK
"Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools" is a book about numbers more than about children. However, children's voices, as well as the voices of other school staff, are heard throughout. But the numbers are the foundation of the story: numbers of dollars spent in wealthy districts, the smaller number spent in poor districts, numbers of students in classes, tax rates, high school dropout rates, test scores, teacher salaries, attrition rate of teachers, percentages of graduates and non-graduates, the size of the senior class vs. the freshman class, length of tenure of school principals and superintendents, rates of teen age pregnancies. But most often repeated figure is the amount of funding per pupil here as opposed to there, and the resultant regrettable conditions that follow.
As Kozol travels from East St. Louis to Chicago, from Philadelphia to New York City, from Camden (New Jersey) to Detroit, from San Antonio to Washington D.C, the portrait of schools serving predominantly/exclusively African American and Latino children, is a bleak and heart-breaking. He portrays school buildings whose walls are literally crumbling, scores of classrooms without teachers, classes without classrooms, and resources so inadequate that there are not even enough texts for each student to have during class...
To Teach is a vivid, honest portrayal of the everyday magic of teaching, and what it means to be a “good” teacher—debunking myths perpetuated on film and other starry-eyed hero/teacher fictions. Illuminated by the evocative and wry drawings of Ryan Alexander-Tanner, this graphic version of To Teach will engage while it instructs. It is a much-needed reminder of how curiosity, a sense of adventure, and a healthy dose of reflection can guide us all to learn the most from this world as we educate the next generation. Teacher educators and professional developers will want to use this dynamic graphic novel alongside the traditional text for a unique teaching and learning experience.
William Ayers is a school reform activist, Distinguished Professor, and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Ryan Alexander-Tanner is an art teacher and a Xeric Award-winning comic artist.
“This fascinating and, yes, educational book will certainly be of interest to teachers, but it will also teach, inspire, and entertain anyone else who picks it up.”
"It’s profoundly charming . . . a must for educators and highly encouraged for all."
—The Huffington Post
“An utterly original and deliciously irreverent book that is likely to be passed from hand to hand by tens of thousands of our nation’s teachers out of the sheer joy that they will take in reading it.”
—From the Foreword by Jonathan Kozol
“To Teach is hilarious serious and fabulous! A broad manifesto that will change many people’s lives.”
—Laurie Anderson, artist and musician
“Bill Ayers’s theories about teaching reform rest on at least two foundations. One is that the hierarchical relationship between the student and teacher should be moved out of the way, followed by simultaneous learning by teacher and student. The second is to demonstrate how some subjects blend with others (math with science) and all should be taught with their relationship in mind. Sounds good to me. A serious book, but laced with humor. It will strike most readers as a novel approach. Required reading for all educators.”
—Harvey Pekar, author, American Splendor series
“This book is a treasure chest of insight. It represents what dedicated, imaginative teaching is all about and is a blueprint for everyone who wants to explore the intimate connection between teaching and learning. Bill Ayers’ thoughtful text is illuminated by Ryan Alexander-Tanner’s picture-perfect cartoons, creating an added dimension of wit and wisdom that brings comics another step forward in their evolution.”
—Peter Kuper, cartoonist and educator, books include Sticks and Stones, and Diario De Oaxaca
“To Teach is great reading not only to student teachers but to anyone who has a vested interest in our education system. . . . It also is a great example of how comic art is a very efficient way to communicate complex ideas.”
—Peter Bagge, comics journalist and author of the Buddy Bradley series
“Weaving in inspirational anecdotes and playful visual metaphors, To Teach takes us through one school year with a delightful group of young learners. In the process, Ayers and Alexander-Tanner’s collaboration cleverly illustrates the vital importance—and moral necessity—of teaching.”
—Josh Neufeld, writer/artist of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge
“ I wish I’d read this book before I started teaching and making comics a decade ago; it’s chock full of practical and philosophical advice.”
—Lauren Weinstein, cartoonist and teacher, writer/artist, Girl Stories
—From the Foreword bySonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, University of Massachusetts, Amherst and author ofWhy We TeachandWhat Keeps Teachers Going?
“To Teachprovides a wealth of tips, lessons, approaches, and ways to think about thinking. But it also provides a sense of the calling to teach. That is why we need today books like this one, to remind us of why teaching matters.”
—From the Afterword byMike Rose, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
To Teachis the now-classic story of one teacher’s odyssey into the ethical and intellectual heart of teaching. For almost two decades, it has inspired teachers across the country to follow their own path, face their own challenges, and become the teachers they long to be. Since the second edition, there have been dramatic shifts to the educational landscape: the rise and fall of NCLB, major federal intervention in education, the Seattle and Louisville Supreme Court decisions, the unprecedented involvement of philanthropic organizations and big city mayors in school reform, the financial crisis, and much more. This newThird Editionis essential reading amidst today’s public policy debates and school reform initiatives that stress the importance of “good teaching.”
To help bring this popular story to a new generation of teachers, Teachers College Press is publishing an exciting companion volume:To Teach: The Journey, in Comics. In this graphic novel, Ayers and talented young artist Ryan Alexander-Tanner bring the celebrated memoir to life. TheThird EditionofTo Teach, paired with the new graphic novel, offers a unique teaching and learning experience that broadens and deepens our understanding of what teaching can be. Together, these resources will capture the imaginations of pre- and in-service teachers who are ready to follow their own Yellow Brick Roads.
TheThird EditionofTo Teachoffers today’s teachers:
Inspiration to help them reconnect with their highest aspirations and hopes.
A practical guide to teaching as a moral practice.
An antidote to teaching as a linear, connect-the-dots enterprise.
A study guide that is available on-line at tcpress.com.
William Ayersis a school reform activist and Distinguished Professor and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Praise for the Second Edition!
"An imaginative, elegant, and inspiring book... essential reading for anyone who believes that teachers can change lives."—Michèle Foster, Claremont Graduate University
“To Teachis one of the few books about teaching that does not disappoint.”
—From the Foreword byGloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin–Madison
“William Ayers creates a wise and beautiful account of what teaching is and might be.... He leaves us with fresh awareness of what the teaching project signifies. He provokes us, each in our own fashion, to move further in our own quests.”
—Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia University
“No one since John Holt has written so thoughtfully about the things that actually happen in the classroom. Ayers has been there and he knows, and he shares what he has learned with tremendous sensitivity. The book, I’m sure, will be required reading in every school in the nation.”
“Bill Ayers speaks as teacher, parent, and student: as compassionate observer and passionate advocate of his three sons and of all of our children. What is unique is the way in which the personal and professional merge seamlessly.... Ayers is a wonderful story teller.”
“Ayers’s riveting description of his unfolding journey as a teacher will be a helpful guide to teachers at all stages of their careers.”
This provocative book features short essays on important topics to provide every elected representative, school administrator, school board member, teacher, parent, and concerned citizen with much food for thought, as well as reliable knowledge from authoritative sources.
“Berliner and Glass are long-time critics of wrong-headed education reforms. 50 Myths and Lies continues their record of evidence-based truth-telling. Joined by 19 young scholars in identifying 50 of the worst ideas for changing our nation's schools, they are able to sort through the cacophony of today’s all too often ill-informed debate. Anyone involved in making decisions about today’s schools should read this book.”
—Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University
“This book is true grit. It’s the gritty reality of hard data. It’s the irritating grit that makes you shift in your seat. And it’s the grit that sometimes makes you want to weep. Well argued, well written—whether you agree or disagree with this book, if you care about the future of public education, you mustn’t ignore it.”
—Andy Hargreaves, professor, Thomas More Brennan Chair in Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College
“50 Myths and Lies is a powerful defense of public education and a discerning refutation of the reckless misimpressions propagated by a juggernaut of private-sector forces and right-wing intellectuals who would gladly rip apart the legacy of democratic schooling in America. It is a timely and hard-hitting book of scholarly but passionate polemic. The teachers of our children will be grateful.”
—Jonathan Kozol, educator, author of Fire in the Ashes
“What do you get when two world-class scholars and a team of talented analysts take a hard look at 50 widely held yet unsound beliefs about U.S. public schools? Well, in this instance you get a flat-out masterpiece that, by persuasively blending argument and evidence, blasts those beliefs into oblivion. Required reading? You bet!”
—W. James Popham, professor emeritus, UCLA
David C. Berliner is an educational psychologist and bestselling author. He was professor and dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education at Arizona State University. Gene V Glass is a senior researcher at the National Education Policy Center and a research professor in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. TheirAssociates are the hand-picked leading PhDs and PhDs in training from their respective institutions.
Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way is a significant reminder of the influence of our nation's determined teachers and what they can achieve whe they go against the grain of rigid curriculums and authoritarian standardized testing. Schultz’s debut work is a must-read for anyone who believes in the power of challenging convention, the authority of human compassion, and finding solutions that work for America's youth.
“Once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. The power here is in the details. It’s a marvelous, important book and is badly needed at a moment when the values it upholds are under an unrelenting assault from forces of reactionary ignorance.”
—Jonathan Kozol, author of Amazing Grace
“Carr Community Academy is a crumbling elementary school in Chicago next to one of the largest and most perilous public housing projects—Cabrini Green. It also is the location of one of the more spectacular fifth-grade classes in the country.”
—Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, author, and founder, Public Citizen research group
“In a time of ever more testing and standardization, Brian Schultz demonstrates in powerful ways what the critically democratic alternative looks like. Anyone who wants to make a difference in urban education needs to read this book.”
—Michael W. Apple, author of Educating the “Right” Way
“This fifth-grade class illustrates some important lessons about America: The neglect of the inner-city poor, the virtues of creative public service, of teaching to educate-not just to pass a test-and of perseverance.”
—Robert Siegel, All Things Considered, National Public Radio
"Thank you, Howard Zinn. Thank you for telling us what none of our leaders are willing to: The truth. And you tell it with such brilliance, such humanity. It is a personal honor to be able to say I am a better citizen because of you." —Michael Moore, director of Fahrenheit 9/11
"This strong, incisive book by Howard Zinn provides us with a penetrating critique of current U.S. policies and embraces the sweep of history. . . . A Power Governments Cannot Suppress leaves us with the faith that citizens have what it takes to confront power and to reverse the dangerous and unjust acts of our government." —Jonathan Kozol, author of The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America
"Find here the voice of the well-educated and honorable and capable and humane United States of America, which might have existed if only absolute power had not corrupted its third-rate leaders so absolutely." —Kurt Vonnegut, author of A Man Without a Country
"Howard Zinn is a unique voice of sanity, clarity, and wisdom who reads history not only to understand the present but to shape the future . . . . Profoundly insightful . . . A Power Governments Cannot Suppress should be read by every American, over and over again." —Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine
"Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history. . ." —New York Times Book Review
"Zinn collects here almost three dozen brief, passionate essays that follow in the tradition of his landmark work, A People's History of the United States . . . Readers seeking to break out of their ideological comfort zones will find much to ponder here." —Publishers Weekly
Howard Zinn was an acclaimed historian, playwright, and combat veteran of World War II. He was the author of more than two dozen books, including his masterpiece A People's History of the United States, and The Historic Unfulfilled Promise (City Lights).
In the words of Sonia Nieto, City Kids, City Schools “challenge[s] the conventional wisdom of what it means to teach in urban schools.”
—Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequalities
“The most authoritative accounting I’ve seen of where our country stands in its unending quest to resolve the racial dilemma on which it was founded.”
—Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Carry Me Home
“The End of Anger may be the defining work on America’s new racial dynamics.”
—Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union
Ellis Cose is a venerated voice on American life. With The End of Anger, he offers readers a sharp and insightful contemporary look at the decline of black rage, the demise of white guilt, and the intergenerational shifts in how blacks and whites view and interact with each other. A new generation’s take on race and rage, The End of Anger may be the most important book dealing with race to be published in the last several decades.
“This book is dynamite! The nice personal voice makes it utterly accessible and enticing, wholly apart from the terribly important ammunition it provides to those of us in the `testing wars' at national and local levels.”—Jonathan Kozol, author of Savage Inequities
Two romances thread through Random Family: the sexually charismatic nineteen-year-old Jessica's dizzying infatuation with a hugely successful young heroin dealer, Boy George, and fourteen-year-old Coco's first love with Jessica's little brother, Cesar, an aspiring thug. Fleeing from family problems, the young couples try to outrun their destinies. Chauffeurs whisk them to getaways in the Poconos and to nightclubs. They cruise the streets in Lamborghinis and customized James Bond cars. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between life and death. Friends get murdered; the DEA and FBI investigate Boy George's business activities; Cesar becomes a fugitive; Jessica and Coco endure homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and throughout it all, the insidious damage of poverty. Together, then apart, the teenagers make family where they find it. Girls look for excitement and find trouble; boys, searching for adventure, join crews and prison gangs. Coco moves upstate to dodge the hazards of the Bronx; Jessica seeks solace in romance. Both find that love is the only place to go.
A gifted prose stylist and a profoundly compassionate observer, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc has slipped behind the cold statistics and sensationalism surrounding inner-city life and come back with a riveting, haunting, and true urban soap opera that reveals the clenched grip of the streets. Random Family is a compulsive read and an important journalistic achievement, sure to take its place beside the classics of the genre.
Praise for Buck
“A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.”—Maya Angelou
“In America, we have a tradition of black writers whose autobiographies and memoirs come to define an era. . . . Buck may be this generation’s story.”—NPR
“The voice of a new generation. . . . You will love nearly everything about Buck.”—Essence
“A virtuoso performance . . . [an] extraordinary page-turner of a memoir . . . written in a breathless, driving hip-hop prose style that gives it a tough, contemporary edge.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Frequently brilliant and always engaging . . . It takes great skill to render the wide variety of characters, male and female, young and old, that populate a memoir like Buck. Asante [is] at his best when he sets out into the city of Philadelphia itself. In fact, that city is the true star of this book. Philly’s skateboarders, its street-corner philosophers and its tattoo artists are all brought vividly to life here. . . . Asante’s memoir will find an eager readership, especially among young people searching in books for the kind of understanding and meaning that eludes them in their real-life relationships. . . . A powerful and captivating book.”—Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
“Remarkable . . . Asante’s prose is a fluid blend of vernacular swagger and tender poeticism. . . . [He] soaks up James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Walt Whitman like thirsty ground in a heavy rain. Buck grew from that, and it’s a bumper crop.”—Salon
“Buck is so honest it floats—even while it’s so down-to-earth that the reader feels like an ant peering up from the concrete. It’s a powerful book. . . . Asante is a hip-hop raconteur, a storyteller in the Homeric tradition, an American, a rhymer, a big-thinker singing a song of himself. You’ll want to listen.”—The Buffalo News
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Praise for I Choose To Stay
"An intensely moving story of loyalty and courage and a deeply pewrsonal tribute to the great potential of our inner-city kids, so frequently dismissed and denigrated by American society. The redemptive power of a teacher's love shines through these pages with prophetic grace. I am grateful to the author for the lesson of essential decency he teaches us" --Jonathan Kozol
"This book is about courage. It is a story about determination, about compassion, love and the ultimate fight. This is the fight against the odds, against the 'system' and years of cultural, social and economic factors that would have allowed this group of inner-city kids to become nothing more than a set of statistics. But Salome Thomas-El would not let that happen. He would not give up. He saw the potential in them and he fought for them. he used a board game as a weapon in this figth." --From the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger
"A powerful story about what an inspirational teacher can do to open new horizons for economically disadvantaged young people" --William H. Gray, III, President, United Negro College Fund
"This book shows how one dedicated educator who believes in th potential of all our kids can make a huge difference and how, under teh proper circumstances, urban education can work." --Edward G. Rendell, former mayor of Philadelphia, Chairman of the Democratic National Convention
"An eloquent example of how commitment and innovation can better the lives of inner-city children." --Kirkus Reviews
Drew Philp, an idealistic college student from a working-class Michigan family, decides to live where he can make a difference. He sets his sights on Detroit, the failed metropolis of abandoned buildings, widespread poverty, and rampant crime. Arriving with no job, no friends, and no money, Philp buys a ramshackle house for five hundred dollars in the east side neighborhood known as Poletown. The roomy Queen Anne he now owns is little more than a clapboard shell on a crumbling brick foundation, missing windows, heat, water, electricity, and a functional roof.
A $500 House in Detroit is Philp’s raw and earnest account of rebuilding everything but the frame of his house, nail by nail and room by room. “Philp is a great storyteller…[and his] engrossing” (Booklist) tale is also of a young man finding his footing in the city, the country, and his own generation. We witness his concept of Detroit shift, expand, and evolve as his plan to save the city gives way to a life forged from political meaning, personal connection, and collective purpose. As he assimilates into the community of Detroiters around him, Philp guides readers through the city’s vibrant history and engages in urgent conversations about gentrification, racial tensions, and class warfare.
Part social history, part brash generational statement, part comeback story, A $500 House in Detroit “shines [in its depiction of] the ‘radical neighborliness’ of ordinary people in desperate circumstances” (Publishers Weekly). This is an unforgettable, intimate account of the tentative revival of an American city and a glimpse at a new way forward for generations to come.
These guides are a vital part of New York’s raucous sidewalk culture, and, as The Tour Guide reveals, the tours they offer are as fascinatingly diverse—and eccentric—as the city itself. Visitors can take tours that cover Manhattan before the arrival of European settlers, the nineteenth-century Irish gangs of Five Points, the culinary traditions of Queens, the culture of Harlem, or even the surveillance cameras of Chelsea—in short, there are tours to satisfy anyone’s curiosity about the city’s past or present. And the guides are as intriguing as the subjects, we learn, as Jonathan R. Wynn explores the lives of the people behind the tours, introducing us to office workers looking for a diversion from their desk jobs, unemployed actors honing their vocal skills, and struggling retirees searching for a second calling. Matching years of research with his own experiences as a guide, Wynn also lays bare the grueling process of acquiring an official license and offers a how-to guide to designing and leading a tour.
Touching on the long history of tour-giving across the globe as well as the ups and downs of New York’s tour guide industry in the wake of 9/11, The Tour Guide is as informative and insightful as the chatty, charming, and colorful characters at its heart.
The book centers on the secret history of Spanish Growth & Development (SGD)—an organization of Latino gangs founded in 1989 and modeled on the Mafia’s nationwide Commission. It also tells a story within a story of the criminal exploits of the C-Note$, the “minor league” team of the Chicago’s Mafia (called the “Outfit”), which influenced the direction of SGD. Hagedorn’s tale is based on three years of interviews with an Outfit soldier as well as access to SGD’s constitution and other secret documents, which he supplements with interviews of key SGD leaders, court records, and newspaper accounts. The result is a stunning, heretofore unknown history of the grand ambitions of Chicago gang leaders that ultimately led to SGD’s shocking collapse in a pool of blood on the steps of a gang-organized peace conference.
The Insane Chicago Way is a compelling history of the lives and deaths of Chicago gang leaders. At the same time it is a sociological tour de force that warns of the dangers of organized crime while arguing that today’s relative disorganization of gangs presents opportunities for intervention and reductions in violence.
Weed portrays the victims' rights movement as having developed out of a confluence of very different agendas for social action: the national conservative crusade for law and order on one side, and the feminist movement's concern with violent crimes against women on the other. As the movement has gained momentum it has acquired a complex organizational system of national centers and grass roots groups.
Certainty of Justice takes an inside look at this system - at some of the people who run these groups, and at the issues promoted by their agenda. It also examines some of the consequences of the work of the movement, reflected in recent changes in state and federal laws enacted and decisions rendered in the name of "victims' rights."
For a year, the sociologist Christopher P. Dum lived in the Boardwalk Motel to better understand its residents and the varied paths that brought them there. He documented how life in the motel affected their goals and dreams. As told through the voices and experiences of motel residents, Exiled in America paints a portrait of a vibrant community whose members forged identities in response to overwhelming stigma and created meaningful lives despite crushing economic instability. Dum witnessed moments of violence and conflict, as well as those of care and community. Throughout, he presents a powerful counterforce to the myths and stereotypes that often plague marginalized populations.
In addition to chronicling daily life at the Boardwalk, Dum also follows local neighborhood efforts to shut the establishment down, leading to a wider analysis of legislative attempts to sanitize shared social space. He suggests meaningful policy changes to address the societal failures that lead to the need for motels such as the Boardwalk. The story of the Boardwalk, and the many motels like it, will concern anyone who cares about the lives of America’s most vulnerable citizens.
In Ireland, 1951, the young June Goulding took up a position as midwife in a home for unmarried mothers run by the Sacred Heart nuns. What she witnessed there was to haunt her for the next fifty years. It was a place of secrets, lies and cruelty. A place where women picked grass by hand and tarred roads whilst heavily pregnant. Where they were denied any contact with the outside world; denied basic medical treatment and abused for their 'sins'; where, after the birth, they were forced into hard labour in the convent for three years. But worst of all was that the young women were expected to raise their babies during these three years so that they could then be sold - given up for adoption in exchange for a donation to the nuns.
Shocked by the nuns' inhumane treatment of the frightened young women, June risked her job to bring some light into their dark lives. June's memoir tells the story of twelve women's experiences in this home and of the hardships they endured, but also the kindness she offered them, and the hope she was able to bring.
Duck’s short stay in Bristol Hill quickly transformed into a long-term study—one that forms the core of No Way Out. This landmark book challenges the common misconception of urban ghettoes as chaotic places where drug dealing, street crime, and random violence make daily life dangerous for their residents. Through close observations of daily life in these neighborhoods, Duck shows how the prevailing social order ensures that residents can go about their lives in relative safety, despite the risks that are embedded in living amid the drug trade. In a neighborhood plagued by failing schools, chronic unemployment, punitive law enforcement, and high rates of incarceration, residents are knit together by long-term ties of kinship and friendship, and they base their actions on a profound sense of community fairness and accountability. Duck presents powerful case studies of individuals whose difficulties flow not from their values, or a lack thereof, but rather from the multiple obstacles they encounter on a daily basis.
No Way Out explores how ordinary people make sense of their lives within severe constraints and how they choose among unrewarding prospects, rather than freely acting upon their own values. What emerges is an important and revelatory new perspective on the culture of the urban poor.
Going deep into a West Side neighborhood most Chicagoans only know from news reports—a place where children have been shot just for crossing the wrong street—Ralph unearths the fragile humanity that fights to stay alive there, to thrive, against all odds. He talks to mothers, grandmothers, and pastors, to activists and gang leaders, to the maimed and the hopeful, to aspiring rappers, athletes, or those who simply want safe passage to school or a steady job. Gangland Chicago, he shows, is as complicated as ever. It’s not just a warzone but a community, a place where people’s dreams are projected against the backdrop of unemployment, dilapidated housing, incarceration, addiction, and disease, the many hallmarks of urban poverty that harden like so many scars in their lives. Recounting their stories, he wrestles with what it means to be an outsider in a place like this, whether or not his attempt to understand, to help, might not in fact inflict its own damage. Ultimately he shows that the many injuries these people carry—like dreams—are a crucial form of resilience, and that we should all think about the ghetto differently, not as an abandoned island of unmitigated violence and its helpless victims but as a neighborhood, full of homes, as a part of the larger society in which we all live, together, among one another.
A pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai. Every month, five million people move from the past to the future. Pouring into developing-world “instant cities” like Dubai and Shenzhen, these urban newcomers confront a modern world cobbled together from fragments of a West they have never seen. Do these fantastical boomtowns, where blueprints spring to life overnight on virgin land, represent the dawning of a brave new world? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?
In a captivating blend of history and reportage, Daniel Brook travels to a series of major metropolitan hubs that were once themselves instant cities— St. Petersburg, Shanghai, and Mumbai—to watch their “dress rehearsals for the twenty-first century.” Understanding today’s emerging global order, he argues, requires comprehending the West’s profound and conflicted influence on developing-world cities over the centuries.
In 1703, Tsar Peter the Great personally oversaw the construction of a new Russian capital, a “window on the West” carefully modeled on Amsterdam, that he believed would wrench Russia into the modern world. In the nineteenth century, Shanghai became the fastest-growing city on earth as it mushroomed into an English-speaking, Western-looking metropolis that just happened to be in the Far East. Meanwhile, Bombay, the cosmopolitan hub of the British Raj, morphed into a tropical London at the hands of its pith-helmeted imperialists.
Juxtaposing the stories of the architects and authoritarians, the artists and revolutionaries who seized the reins to transform each of these precociously modern places into avatars of the global future, Brook demonstrates that the drive for modernization was initially conflated with wholesale Westernization. He shows, too, the ambiguous legacy of that emulation—the birth (and rebirth) of Chinese capitalism in Shanghai, the origins of Bollywood in Bombay’s American-style movie palaces, the combustible mix of revolutionary culture and politics that rocked the Russian capital—and how it may be transcended today.
A fascinating, vivid look from the past out toward the horizon, A History of Future Cities is both a crucial reminder of globalization’s long march and an inspiring look into the possibilities of our Asian Century.
Based on in-depth ethnographic field work collected when the author, Cid Martinez, lived and worked in schools in South Central, this study reveals the day-to-day ways in which vibrant social institutions in South LA— its churches, its local politicians, and even its gangs—have reduced conflict and kept violence to a level that is manageable for its residents. Martinez argues that inter-racial conflict has not been managed through any coalition between different groups, but rather that these institutions have allowed established African Americans and newcomer Latinos to co-exist through avoidance—an under-appreciated strategy for managing conflict that plays a crucial role in America's low-income communities. Ultimately, this book proposes a different understanding of how neighborhood institutions are able to mitigate conflict and violence through several community dimensions of informal social controls.
Organized thematically, the book examines urban social movements, diversity politics, environmental politics and security politics at a global level and argues that living in an urban world calls for a profound rethinking of how we act politically. Through ethnographic incursions into the worlds of youth activists, domestic workers, rioters, barrio bandits and peripheral villagers, among others, from Mexico City and Hanoi to Montreal and New York, the book makes a number of theoretical propositions to redefine the field of urban political studies.
Extending the view of urban politics beyond municipal and metropolitan institutions to the broader political process in cities, this book will be invaluable to advanced students and scholars interested in our urban future. For, as Boudreau convincingly suggests, global urban life is political life.
Drawing on archival material and interviews with African American women transit workers in the San Francisco Bay Area, Katrinell Davis grapples with our understanding of mobility as it intersects with race and gender in the postindustrial and post–civil rights United States. Considering the consequences of declining working conditions within the public transit workplace of Alameda County, Davis illustrates how worker experience--on and off the job--has been undermined by workplace norms and administrative practices designed to address flagging worker commitment and morale. Providing a comprehensive account of how political, social, and economic factors work together to shape the culture of opportunity in a postindustrial workplace, she shows how government manpower policies, administrative policies, and drastic shifts in unionization have influenced the prospects of low-skilled workers.
Creative Margins interweaves stories of the challenges and opportunities presented by the creation of culture in suburbs, focusing on Etobicoke and Mississauga outside Toronto, and Surrey and North Vancouver outside Vancouver. The book investigates whether the creative process unfolds differently for suburban and urban cultural workers, as well as how this process is affected by the presence or absence of cultural infrastructure and planning initiatives.
Bain shows how suburban culture can enhance a city-region’s vitality and sustainability. This book firmly debunks the myth of culture as a solely urban phenomenon and demonstrates the social and economic merits of investing in suburban art and culture.