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   In this powerful and culminating work about a group of inner-city children he has known for many years, Jonathan Kozol returns to the scene of his prize-winning books Rachel and Her Children and Amazing Grace, and to the children he has vividly portrayed, to share with us their fascinating journeys and unexpected victories as they grow into adulthood.

   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.

Published: Crown Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Aug 28, 2012
ISBN: 9780770435950
List price: $11.99
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Kozol's book takes us on a compelling journey into the residential hotels of New York City,where homeless families find disturbing refuge -- and occasionally hope for a better life.As a teacher, I am constantly reminded of my students hardships when they tell me theirown stories of homelessness, of cleaning houses to help their families make ends meet,of abuse and neglect. I couldn't put t his book down. In the richest country in the world, it isshameful to disown our children this way, to assign them such lives of struggle. Thank you, JonathanKozol, for your heart and your words.read more
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This book will be most appreciated by readers familiar with Kozol's other works, particularly titles relating to the children and families he has come to know at St. Ann's. Twenty-five years after beginning to follow the lives of these impoverished children, the author offers updated findings. He concludes that the children who have done well as adults have had something special: someone who intervened in their lives. Powerful and moving.
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Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jonathan Kozol breaks my heart every time I open one of his books. Who knew the suffering children are experiencing in homes in the poorest areas of our country? Who knew how schools, the last hope of many, are giving up on these children? Who knew?Kozol revisits children he has run across in his work in the schools in the past twenty-five years. For many of these children, life has only gotten more difficult and many of these stories end tragically, with prison time and even in death. But there are happy stories, too. As I was reading along, with one devastating story after the other, I was at the point, mid-book, where it was too painful to go on. It was almost as if Kozol realized that, too, and the stories suddenly began to shift and Kozol began to tell the stories of lives redeemed and saved along with the bleak. A book that is a reminder to all of us of the power we hold in our hands to help or hinder those too weak or too tired to make it on their own.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Kozol's book takes us on a compelling journey into the residential hotels of New York City,where homeless families find disturbing refuge -- and occasionally hope for a better life.As a teacher, I am constantly reminded of my students hardships when they tell me theirown stories of homelessness, of cleaning houses to help their families make ends meet,of abuse and neglect. I couldn't put t his book down. In the richest country in the world, it isshameful to disown our children this way, to assign them such lives of struggle. Thank you, JonathanKozol, for your heart and your words.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book will be most appreciated by readers familiar with Kozol's other works, particularly titles relating to the children and families he has come to know at St. Ann's. Twenty-five years after beginning to follow the lives of these impoverished children, the author offers updated findings. He concludes that the children who have done well as adults have had something special: someone who intervened in their lives. Powerful and moving.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jonathan Kozol breaks my heart every time I open one of his books. Who knew the suffering children are experiencing in homes in the poorest areas of our country? Who knew how schools, the last hope of many, are giving up on these children? Who knew?Kozol revisits children he has run across in his work in the schools in the past twenty-five years. For many of these children, life has only gotten more difficult and many of these stories end tragically, with prison time and even in death. But there are happy stories, too. As I was reading along, with one devastating story after the other, I was at the point, mid-book, where it was too painful to go on. It was almost as if Kozol realized that, too, and the stories suddenly began to shift and Kozol began to tell the stories of lives redeemed and saved along with the bleak. A book that is a reminder to all of us of the power we hold in our hands to help or hinder those too weak or too tired to make it on their own.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Having taught in the inner city public schools of Cleveland in the early 70s, I have been a long time admirer of Jonathan Kozol and his passion for improving the nation's public education system. He spoke at a Politics and Prose event in Washington, D.C. recently and his words brought tears to many in the audience. In this election year, it is imperative that voters take a hard look at how elected officials approach public education and how the nation can best meet the educational needs of ALL children. While funding is certainly a factor, it is also essential to recognize that standardized testing cannot and should not be the yardstick by which students and teachers are measured. Teachers should be encouraged and empowered to consider the individual needs of students and provided with the resources to meet those needs, both in terms of class size and materials. I encourage everyone to read this book and Kozol's earlier works -- it is heartbreaking to realize how this wealthy nation has neglected public education, especially for those at lowest rung of the economy.
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