MALCOLM X

BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY

A fervent portrait of the controversial man who "put the hard edge on the [civil rights] movement" and "scared America" with his anger. The author sees most of Malcolm X's life as a search for self-respect; discouraged from reaching his full potential in school, he turned to the streets as a sharply dressed hustler but ultimately found more satisfaction in the Nation of Islam's sober living habits and revolutionary philosophy. A talented speaker and organizer, he grew into a leader, the voice of those who saw whites as the enemy and Martin Luther King's nonviolent tactics as either weakness or just too slow. A sense of outrage permeates Myers's book—at segregation and other social inequities; at our biased system of justice; at the FBI's close surveillance of black organizations (Myers is particularly offended by this, and returns to it repeatedly); at the way so many black leaders came to violent ends. The appearance of several recent biographies of Malcolm X—in the wake of the Spike Lee movie—signals a resurgence of interest in this disturbing, gifted figure; use Rummel's Malcolm X (1989) for historical background, but steer readers to Myers for a sense of the rage and frustration that fueled Malcolm X's brief career. (Biography. 12+)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0590481096

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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GENIUS OF COMMON SENSE

JANE JACOBS AND THE STORY OF THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES

Jane Jacobs is an unlikely subject for a school assignment, which is unfortunate, as being required to do research would be the most likely way that many readers will discover this brief but comprehensive biography. A writer with varied experience, Jacobs brought a wealth of knowledge along with her personal convictions to her work as an activist and critic of the status quo. At a time when city planners were determined to conquer urban blight by destroying buildings and uprooting communities, Jacobs argued for a vision of cities as vibrant, functioning systems whose positive growth could be fostered. That she did so successfully without a degree and during the 1950s and ’60s, a time when women’s contributions were often overlooked, is impressive indeed. Better known in Canada, where she moved in 1968, Jacobs may be unfamiliar to many teens, but she is definitely worthy of their attention. Wunsch and Lang have done readers a service in introducing her so effectively, including black-and-white photos and drawings as well as diagrams to augment their text. Push during Women’s History Month and at every other opportunity. (Biography. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56792-384-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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A DANGEROUS ENGINE

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, FROM SCIENTIST TO DIPLOMAT

Dash ably covers Franklin’s life from first days to last, but what sets this apart from the plethora of similar portraits is her particular focus on his lifelong interest in science and invention. Ever the amateur, he gathered a group of like-minded “Franklinists” to perform electrical experiments and pranks, like electrifying the iron fence around his house, “for the amusement of visitors,” writes Dash. He took measurements of the Gulf Stream, closely observed natural phenomena on land and sea, fiddled with magic squares and corresponded regularly with many fellow enquirers on both sides of the Atlantic—along with inventing (though deliberately never patenting) a stove, the lightning rod, bifocals, the “glass armonica” and much else. Characterizing Franklin as a “speckled” man, who “changed, took up new roles, found new motives within himself” over his long career, Dash also recounts his later diplomatic triumphs in full, without glossing over his youthful misadventures or occasional lack of candor. Readers will come away with a profound understanding of this great man’s mind, heart, achievements and—with some help from Petricic’s witty line drawings—sense of fun. (annotated bibliography, end notes) (Biography. 12+)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2006

ISBN: 0-374-30669-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2005

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