Monday, March 30, 2015

The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Woodson

The Mis-Education of the NegroThe Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Mis-Education of the Negro was originally published in 1933. In it, Woodson outlines what he sees as the repercussions of an ineffective Negro educational system. The book may have been shocking when it was written, but it represents mainstay thought about education, today. The book remains relevant, because even though most agree, as a community, we still have a way to go in putting many of his recommendations into practice. As a modern reader, I appreciated chapters XVII and the appendix the most. In chapter XVII, Woodson says that it doesn’t make sense for Blacks to simple give their vote to one political party.
Any people who will vote the same way for three generations without thereby obtaining results ought to be ignored and disfranchised. As a minority element, the Negro should not knock at the door of any particular political party.

In the appendix, Woodson examines the question of what the race should be called. I don’t think he ever answers the question, but I love the following quote:
It doesn’t matter so much what a thing is called as what a thing is.

Although the topics Woodson covers in chapters VII and the appendix aren’t new, I think he offers an opinion that isn’t often articulated as eloquently and is relevant to a modern discussion.

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The Pearl by John Steinbeck REVIEW

People who love Steinbeck seem to think that this isn't a sampling of his best, but I was certainly impressed.  The writing is wonderful and the story is simple with universal themes.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I recently discovered this book.  It was added to my library's ebook collection, so I put it on hold.  When it became available I borrowed it, and read it. I wasn't aware of it before I saw added as a new book to the library's collection

WHAT Makes It A Classic
This is a book commonly taught in middle school and highschool.  It is very accessible as a way to introduce how an author can use symbolism. There is a great deal of teaching material available for this book.

WHY I Chose to Read It

WILL It Stay A Classic
Yes.  The book is beautifully written and involves universal themes.  Teachers can dig in, because every character represents a sin or temptation, etc.

WHO I’d Recommend It To
I'd recommend this to anyone who likes good writing.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis REVIEW

The Screwtape LettersThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lewis was nothing if not clever. He demonstrated that again in this classic Christian apologetic.

The Screwtape Letters is a commentary on how we allow sin to creep into our life and the spiritual warfare that is really at work in the process. Lewis engaged a dry wit an an unusual composition to keep the reader interested. This book could easily be read straight through like a novel, but I approached it more like a study, reading it piecemeal. I was most struck by how timeless it is. Even though this book was written over fifty years ago, it is still amazingly accurate concerning the temptations of modern life. I would recommend this book to any Christian looking for a primer or even an advanced study on sin and temptation.

The Ws

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
About 15 years ago.

WHAT Makes It A Classic
C.S. Lewis is a legend as a Christian apologetic.  That doesn’t make every book he wrote a classic, but I have seen this one listed several times on different Christian classics lists, and I have seen this book referenced numerous times in other Christian literature.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I was interested in the premise.  Lewis is at his best when he is being creative.

WILL It Stay A Classic
Most certainly this will stay a classic.  The commentary is extremely relevant to modern society.

WHO I’d Recommend It To

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt Review

The Marrow of TraditionThe Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many critics consider Charles Chesnut to be the most influential African American fiction writer during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His realist fiction work The Marrow of Tradition based on a historical account of race riots that took place in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898 has been on my kindle for a while. I had been hesitant to take it on, because I thought such a subject matter would be depressing, but the classics challenge gave me the proper motivation to stop procrastinating and get reading. Chestnut did not write the novel for mere entertainment. He had two important purposes. The first was to refute misinformation about the riot perpetuated by inaccurate news reports and a series of white supremacist novels. The second was to stir a sense of outrage over lynchings and violence upon blacks.

I appreciate what Chestnut did in writing this book. The intertwined characters and plots made for an interesting story. Given the backdrop of good storytelling, Chestnut tackled a variety of difficult subjects and offered his audience alternative perspectives. He successfully documented the riots and gave the reader a context to understand them. I think that The Marrow of Tradition still has a lot to offer the modern reader as for as understanding the origins of nature of race relations, especially in the south. I’m glad I read it, but for my own taste the book was sometimes arduous.

Given the gravity of the subject matter, the nobility of purpose, and the many excellent technical aspects of the book, it is difficult for me to give this book a review that is less than glorious. However, if truth be told, I did not enjoy the book as much as expected. It had a slow start, but that wasn’t the primary problem for me. So much of the book was written from the racist perspective, that I was bored much of the time. Personally, I found the racist voice wearing, and the expectation of it dampened my interest in the book.

Though I can only give this book 3 1/2 stars based on my own enjoyment, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

The W's are answered within the body of this post.

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