A compelling recounting that invites and encourages readers to grapple with difficult history.

BLACK BIRDS IN THE SKY

THE STORY AND LEGACY OF THE 1921 TULSA RACE MASSACRE

The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 was not only a devastating attack on one community, but part of a history of violence against African Americans.

The attack on the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, that began on May 31, 1921, was triggered in part by a mob of Whites seeking to punish an African American teenager for allegedly assaulting a White woman. However, this exploration shows that the violence that destroyed the thriving community known as Black Wall Street was part of a long history of brutality and displacement. In addition to describing the event itself and the subsequent active suppression of information about it, Colbert provides important context for the founding of Tulsa, as Muscogee (Creek) people who were forcibly removed from their land by the U.S. government settled there in 1833. The end of Reconstruction saw paroxysms of violence and the rise in discriminatory laws against African Americans, and many sought sanctuary in Indian Territory. By weaving together many elements, this sophisticated volume makes clear that the destruction of Black property and lives in the Tulsa Race Massacre was not an isolated incident. Beginning with the author’s personal foreword and continuing throughout the detailed narrative, readers are guided to see the complex, interconnected nature of history. The clear, readable prose supports a greater understanding both of how and why incidents like the one in Tulsa happened and their exclusion from curriculum and conversations about U.S. history.

A compelling recounting that invites and encourages readers to grapple with difficult history. (afterword, bibliography, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-305666-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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This is clearly not unbiased reporting, but it makes a strong case that justice in our legal system does not always fit the...

ONE CUT

From the Simon True series

Porinchak recounts how the legal system fails five teens who commit a serious crime.

The May 22, 1995, brawl in a white suburb of Los Angeles that resulted in the death of one teen and the injury of another is related matter-of-factly. The account of the police investigation, the judicial process, and the ultimate incarceration of the five boys is more passionately argued. Since the story focuses on the teens’ experiences following the brawl, minimal attention is given to Jimmy Farris, who died, although the testimony of Mike McLoren, who survived, is crucial. The book opens with a comprehensive dramatis personae that will help orient readers, and the text is liberally punctuated by quotes drawn from contemporary newspaper and magazine coverage as well as interviews with several of the key figures, including three of the accused. Porinchak argues that the proceedings were influenced by the high-profile 1994 trial and acquittal of the Menendez brothers, and unfounded accusations of gang involvement further clouded the matter. Despite the journalistic style, there is clear intent to elicit sympathy for the five boys involved, three of whom were sentenced to life without parole; of two, the text remarks that “they were numbers now, not humans.”

This is clearly not unbiased reporting, but it makes a strong case that justice in our legal system does not always fit the crime. (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8132-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Conversational, sometimes playful—not the sort of book that would survive vetting by school-system censors these days, but a...

A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD

A lovely, lively historical survey that takes in Neanderthals, Hohenzollerns and just about everything in between.

In 1935, Viennese publisher Walter Neurath approached Gombrich, who would go on to write the canonical, bestselling Story of Art, to translate a history textbook for young readers. Gombrich volunteered that he could do better than the authors, and Neurath accepted the challenge, provided that a completed manuscript was on his desk in six weeks. This book, available in English for the first time, is the happy result. Gombrich is an engaging narrator whose explanations are charming if sometimes vague. (Take the kid-friendly definition of truffles: “Truffles,” he says, “are a very rare and special sort of mushroom.” End of lesson.) Among the subjects covered are Julius Caesar (who, Gombrich exults, was able to dictate two letters simultaneously without getting confused), Charlemagne, the American Civil War, Karl Marx, the Paris Commune and Kaiser Wilhelm. As he does, he offers mostly gentle but pointed moralizing about the past, observing, for instance, that the Spanish conquest of Mexico required courage and cunning but was “so appalling, and so shaming to us Europeans that I would rather not say anything more about it,” and urging his young readers to consider that perhaps not all factory owners were as vile as Marx portrayed them to be, even though the good owners “against their conscience and their natural instincts, often found themselves treating their workers in the same way”—which is to say, badly.

Conversational, sometimes playful—not the sort of book that would survive vetting by school-system censors these days, but a fine conception and summarizing of the world’s checkered past for young and old.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2005

ISBN: 0-300-10883-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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