News books for the week of November 11th

Fire in the ashesFire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol. (Crown Publishers, 2012.)

Kozol movingly recounts what happened to several of the children he had written about in his earlier books, which explored the lives of families living in one of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods (e.g., The Shame of the Nation, CH, Mar’06, 43-4166). The author follows these children from his first encounter with them at a hotel for homeless families or a local church’s after-school program through the present. Some had overcome the very dire circumstances in which they grew up and were highly productive young adults. Others were just managing to get by and had limited prospects for the future. A few had not survived. The stories of these children are inspiring. They demonstrate that even the most disadvantaged children can succeed when given educational opportunities and the support of caring adults. However, the stories are also very disturbing. Far too many children continue to live in high-poverty neighborhoods like the one in which these children grew up. They have no choice but to attend low-quality, hyper-segregated schools, and are exposed to violence on a daily basis. Although Kozol does not offer specific solutions, those who read the book may be motivated to advocate for change.

CounselingAddictions and Recovery Counseling: 40 Topics, Spiritual Insights, and Easy-to-Use Action Steps by Tim Clinton & Eric Scalise. (Baker Books, 2013.)

The newest addition to the popular Quick-Reference Guide collection, The Quick-Reference Guide to Addictions and Recovery Counseling focuses on the widespread problem of addictions of all kinds. It is an A-Z guide for assisting pastors, professional counselors, and everyday believers to easily access a full array of information to aid them in formal and informal counseling situations. Each of the forty topics covered follows a helpful eight-part outline and identifies (1) typical symptoms and patterns, (2) definitions and key thoughts, (3) questions to ask, (4) directions for the conversation, (5) action steps, (6) biblical insights, (7) prayer starters, and (8) recommended resources.

GardenIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson. (Crown, c2011.)

In this mesmerizing portrait of the Nazi capital, Larson plumbs a far more diabolical urban cauldron than in his bestselling The Devil in the White City. He surveys Berlin, circa 1933-1934, from the perspective of two American naifs: Roosevelt’s ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, an academic historian and Jeffersonian liberal who hoped Nazism would de-fang itself (he urged Hitler to adopt America’s milder conventions of anti-Jewish discrimination), and Dodd’s daughter Martha, a sexual free spirit who loved Nazism’s vigor and ebullience. At first dazzled by the glamorous world of the Nazi ruling elite, they soon started noticing signs of its true nature: the beatings meted out to Americans who failed to salute passing storm troopers; the oppressive surveillance; the incessant propaganda; the intimidation and persecution of friends; the fanaticism lurking beneath the surface charm of its officialdom. Although the narrative sometimes bogs down in Dodd’s wranglings with the State Department and Martha’s soap opera, Larson offers a vivid, atmospheric panorama of the Third Reich and its leaders, including murderous Nazi factional infighting, through the accretion of small crimes and petty thuggery.

White priviledgeWhite Privilege by Paula S.Rothenberg. (Worth Publishers,2012.)

Described as vital, eye-opening, and powerful, White Privilege, Fourth Edition, remains essential reading for students and educators alike. Used in courses across disciplines and educational levels, this unique anthology expertly presents the significance and complexity of whiteness today and illuminates the nature of privilege and power in our society. Rothenberg’s thoughtful four-part organization leads students through the ubiquity and corresponding invisibility of whiteness; the historical development of whiteness and its role in race relations throughout history; the real effects of privilege and its opposite, oppression; and finally, an exploration of how the system of privilege could be changed. The fourth edition continues to feature key articles and essays from such important scholars and writers as Peggy McIntosh, Richard Dyer, Beverly Tatum, bell hooks, Allan G. Johnson, and Tim Wise and includes new selections from Nell Irvin Painter, Robert Jensen, and Justin Podur. Book jacket.

JazzExperiencing Jazz: A Listener’s Companion by Michael Stephans & Gregg Akkerman.(Scarecrow Press,2013.)

In Experiencing Jazz: A Listener s Companion, writer, teacher, and prominent jazz drummer Michael Stephans offers a much-needed survey in the art of listening to and enjoying this dynamic, ever-changing art form. More than mere entertainment, jazz provides a pleasurable and sometimes dizzying listening experience with an extensive range in structure and form, from the syncopated swing of big bands to the musical experimentalism of small combos. As Stephans illustrates, listeners and jazz artists often experience the essence of the music together an experience unique in the world of music. Experiencing Jazz demonstrates how the act of listening to jazz takes place on a deeply personal level and takes readers on a whirlwind tour of the genre, instrument by instrument offering not only brief portraits of key musicians like Joe Lovano and John Scofield, but also their own commentaries on how best to experience their music. Throughout, jazz takes center stage as a personal transaction that enriches the lives of the musician and the listener. Written for anyone curious about the musical genre, this book encourages further reading, listening, and viewing, helping potential listeners cultivate an understanding and appreciation of the jazz art and how it can help in drummer Art Blakey s words wash away the dust of everyday life.

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