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Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation

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The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them. The book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them. The book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing women in the neighborhoods where these children live test positive for HIV. Pediatric AIDs, life-consuming fires and gang rivalries take a high toll. Several children die during the year in which this narrative takes place. A gently written work, "Amazing Grace" asks questions that are at once political and theological. What is the value of a child's life? What exactly do we plan to do with those whom we appear to have defined as economically and humanly superfluous? How cold -- how cruel, how tough -- do we dare be?


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The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them. The book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them. The book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing women in the neighborhoods where these children live test positive for HIV. Pediatric AIDs, life-consuming fires and gang rivalries take a high toll. Several children die during the year in which this narrative takes place. A gently written work, "Amazing Grace" asks questions that are at once political and theological. What is the value of a child's life? What exactly do we plan to do with those whom we appear to have defined as economically and humanly superfluous? How cold -- how cruel, how tough -- do we dare be?

30 review for Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    While the content of the book is very heart wrenching, and the statistics and the accounts Kozol provides are all very real, I hated this book. What troubles me is not the book, but its author Jonathan Kozol. Kozol motives are sincere and genuine but it always takes a sympathetic white man to expose the world. Which is almost unnerving as it is sad. On a whole, most of the white community in New York City doesn’t ever see what is happening around them; a train ride away. It’s as if the horrors o While the content of the book is very heart wrenching, and the statistics and the accounts Kozol provides are all very real, I hated this book. What troubles me is not the book, but its author Jonathan Kozol. Kozol motives are sincere and genuine but it always takes a sympathetic white man to expose the world. Which is almost unnerving as it is sad. On a whole, most of the white community in New York City doesn’t ever see what is happening around them; a train ride away. It’s as if the horrors of the world are blurred into the background. That is until; one of their own spends a night in a homeless shelter, and writes of the rapes and murders that occur. Only until then, does the help, reform, sympathy and money come in. However, if a white man is what it takes, than a white man it shall be. If allowing an outsider to record and rewrite your life is the necessary meanings to improving your situation, then by all means whore yourself out to the white man. I fully understand that Kozol is only trying to help those less fortunate, but when will it be the blacks turn to help their own?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Edwin Cruz

    I was moved by the stories told by the old & young in this community. I truly admire Anthony's (a 13 year old) wisdom and ambition as an aspiring writer. The centrality of the church in providing hope and relief for people in this community reminded me of my own childhood. Despite one's religious beliefs we must never devalue the relationships that people have to spiritual places and the sense of belonging and community that is achieved through these relationships. I respect Kozol for being I was moved by the stories told by the old & young in this community. I truly admire Anthony's (a 13 year old) wisdom and ambition as an aspiring writer. The centrality of the church in providing hope and relief for people in this community reminded me of my own childhood. Despite one's religious beliefs we must never devalue the relationships that people have to spiritual places and the sense of belonging and community that is achieved through these relationships. I respect Kozol for being able to give voice to each person he befriends and serving more as a messenger. The book ends with an analysis of a sermon with questions to think about: "Will the people Reverend Groover called "the principalities and powers" look into their hearts one day in church or synagogue and feel the grace of God and, as he put it, "be transformed"? Will they become ashamed of what they've done, or what they have accepted? Will they decide they do not need to quarantine the outcasts of their ingenuity and will they then use all their wisdom and their skills to build a new society and new economy in which no human being will be superfluous? I wish I could believe that, but I don't think it is likely. I think it is more likely that they'll write more stories about "Hope Within the Ashes" and then pile on more ashes and then change the subject to the opening of the ballet or a review of a new restaurant. And the children of disappointment will keep dying." I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a sobering reminder of what many kids go through in low-income communities. It was written in the 90s but its message is still relevant today.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Emmy MacMannis

    This was an extremely eye opening read, which taught me all about life for children and adults in the South Bronx. I would never have imagined all of the terrible things people live through in those neighborhoods. Hearing the stories was moving!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    The crucial realities of a neighborhood’s life districted in South Bronx, New York City were told by Jonathan Kozol. Through his novel, Amazing Grace, he provided the true side and enables the wealthy privileged classes to witness the harsh conditions the poor had gone through. Because of this inequality issue which has been getting worse, readers are able to put their shoes in the lives of the poor. Such injustice drove to the huge gap between the rich and poor. More importantly, all these unfa The crucial realities of a neighborhood’s life districted in South Bronx, New York City were told by Jonathan Kozol. Through his novel, Amazing Grace, he provided the true side and enables the wealthy privileged classes to witness the harsh conditions the poor had gone through. Because of this inequality issue which has been getting worse, readers are able to put their shoes in the lives of the poor. Such injustice drove to the huge gap between the rich and poor. More importantly, all these unfair treatments have not come to an end. Yet, it was taking advantage of. Since the truth has been revealed in the inner city, New York City, it’s to be spread throughout the world to educate others. Finding my favorite part was difficult because all parts hid some sort or tragic and harsh living conditions. However, regarding the writing structure, there’s no doubt that when reading the conditions of health problems and lack of education privileges, it’s so touching. The imagery was painted so well with the help of setting and plot description. Furthermore, the part where innocent children from desperately poor neighborhoods are dealing with their health issues, it was very touching and memorable. But on the other hand it’s unacceptable how we’re all human but are getting total different treatments and rights. I feel real bad for the new born babies because they had no choice to the type of family they born in. For these children, growing in such bad condition yet, still having to bear witness to the cruel reality was plain harsh! But it was all fate… Anyways, I would highly recommend this to all people as a continuation to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—a great follow up!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    New York City slums from the perspective of the kids that live there. The author's sincere attempt to describe life for a select group of kids by compiliting the results of numerous interviews. I knew there was extreme poverty in parts of New York City (and crime, drugs, higher rates of AIDS, gangs), but I had no idea that the "public services" (schools, hospitals, parks, and city services) were so, so bad....dirty hospital rooms that patients have to clean themselves, classrooms meeting in bath New York City slums from the perspective of the kids that live there. The author's sincere attempt to describe life for a select group of kids by compiliting the results of numerous interviews. I knew there was extreme poverty in parts of New York City (and crime, drugs, higher rates of AIDS, gangs), but I had no idea that the "public services" (schools, hospitals, parks, and city services) were so, so bad....dirty hospital rooms that patients have to clean themselves, classrooms meeting in bathrooms, buildings not inspected by the City because inspectors didn't feel 'safe' entering, kids with an average asthma rate 9 times that of kids across town...seriously? You should read this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christie

    In 1996 this book changed my life. Because of this book my 16th year became a mission to better the lives of the students of Taft High School (a school that is discussed in the book). I visited the school, the churches and neighborhoods talked about in the book. I established an exchange program between American Fork High and Taft High School that still is in existence today. I highly recommend Jonothon Kozol's Amazing Grace. This book taught me at a young age that I could change the world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    This book should be read by all. We who are well off can scarcely understand how poor the poor really are. This book brings awareness. The book is difficult to read, given the dire situation described, but is written in such a manner that even humor is thrown in. The book lacks structure; that is why I reduced the stars. And religion? One clearly sees why sometimes people need it. Absolutely perfect narration by Dick Hill. You should read this book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    While not quite a call to action, nevertheless, "Amazing Grace" is a deeply sobering look at the disparity of wealth in this country. Kozol makes an effort to shed light on some of the more systemic and dehabilitating institutional circumstances which perpetuate poverty specifically in the South Bronx in the mid-90s. Kozol addresses the complex ways in which the wealthy continue the oppression. He shows all the terms used in publication to soften and hide the real issues, for instance, "under-ser While not quite a call to action, nevertheless, "Amazing Grace" is a deeply sobering look at the disparity of wealth in this country. Kozol makes an effort to shed light on some of the more systemic and dehabilitating institutional circumstances which perpetuate poverty specifically in the South Bronx in the mid-90s. Kozol addresses the complex ways in which the wealthy continue the oppression. He shows all the terms used in publication to soften and hide the real issues, for instance, "under-served," "low-income," "minorities," "gritty," "impacted," but never, "segregated." He talks about, "compassion fatigue," in which those with means are just too tired to give more effort and drive real change. He goes so far as to posture that these systems are so well established, "we just move in." In the end, Kozol seems to conclude the folks he encounters are ultimately more spiritual guides for him. The people Kozol speaks with often provide biting spiritual insight, given the context. One reverend speaks of churches which overdo, "the blood-and-thunder" messages of acopocalypse, missing the focus of Jesus', "I came that you might have life." Kozol argues some churches, while well-meaning, donating to charity once a year on Christmas Eve are only assuaging their own guilt-ridden wealthy attendants and not at all addressing the misalignment of our humanity. Through the book, Kozol hints at the Holy Spirit working on him in the process. Amazing Grace, indeed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    This 1995 account of Kozol's visits to the South Bronx is quite eye-opening. The people there live in horrible, squalid conditions, and virtually no one knows, or cares. I imagine things have only gotten worse there, although I am not sure how that would be possible.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    This book is not really about poverty. This book is about segregation & the violence it inflicts.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I had to read this for a night class where we were to finish it within the span of a week. Being busy with other things, I had two days to start and finish it. I'm literally exhausted from it. This book is powerful, emotional, depressing, macabre and at times even joyful and uplifting. The children that Kozol speaks with are remarkably brilliant and eloquent in their thoughts. Some of them have reached a maturity in their thinking that I don't see in most adults I know. The women and few men tha I had to read this for a night class where we were to finish it within the span of a week. Being busy with other things, I had two days to start and finish it. I'm literally exhausted from it. This book is powerful, emotional, depressing, macabre and at times even joyful and uplifting. The children that Kozol speaks with are remarkably brilliant and eloquent in their thoughts. Some of them have reached a maturity in their thinking that I don't see in most adults I know. The women and few men that he speaks with are equally as amazing, strong and resilient. I have to bite my tongue when I feel the urge to say that Mrs. Washington is, perhaps, my favorite "character" from any book I've read, because I have to remind myself that this book is not fictional. These stories and people are very, very real. Like most, I'm sure, this was my first real glance into the actuality of the destitution that thrives in our country... I think it's an important book that everyone should read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    Jonathan Kozol is the conscience of education in this country, which he once again proves with this book. Even though the societal ravages he describes these children undergoing make Job's sojourn seem like a walk beach, the children remain the soul of innocence. This is a motivational book: it may turn you into an advocate for underprivileged children in your own community, like the champions depicted in these pages. Always, always, though, his focus is on these beautiful children who are being Jonathan Kozol is the conscience of education in this country, which he once again proves with this book. Even though the societal ravages he describes these children undergoing make Job's sojourn seem like a walk beach, the children remain the soul of innocence. This is a motivational book: it may turn you into an advocate for underprivileged children in your own community, like the champions depicted in these pages. Always, always, though, his focus is on these beautiful children who are being neglected and left behind by the cold and uncaring, bureaucratic society in which we all live.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I use this text while teaching freshman English as a companion to Huxley's Brave New World. It enlightens the all too appropriate comparison and starts a discussion of what America's landscape is really like and how it is crafted, and by whom.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book is absolutely heart breaking, but we all need to hear the stories it tells. Even I was amazed at how the richest nation on earth that boasts of freedom and justice can have such devastating circumstances. If this doesn't motivate you to go protest, I don't know what will.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Difficult. Diligent. Brilliant.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    It surreally opened my eyes to see that such stuff can happen in America in all places. It made me feel soiled and childish how I thought I was unhappy because of the situation I'm in.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Although Jonathan Kozol wrote and researched this book almost 20 years ago (when I was just a little girl), sadly, so much of it still rings true today. The primary focus of this book pertains to the lives of children within the South Bronx. Kozol particularly emphasizes the ways in which these young children process and understand the world in which they live, as well as their places within it. Whenever I'm reading, especially nonfiction texts, I often highlight quotations that I feel are signi Although Jonathan Kozol wrote and researched this book almost 20 years ago (when I was just a little girl), sadly, so much of it still rings true today. The primary focus of this book pertains to the lives of children within the South Bronx. Kozol particularly emphasizes the ways in which these young children process and understand the world in which they live, as well as their places within it. Whenever I'm reading, especially nonfiction texts, I often highlight quotations that I feel are significant, startling, etc. Below I have included some of these quotations; my hope is that they will convince you to read this book if you have not yet done so. The following are things that various residents, along with religious leaders and teachers, of the South Bronx, said to Kozol during interviews. Most often, the "they" referred to in these quotations are the leaders and citizens of New York City. --"[They] don't clean up your neighborhood, don't fix your buildings, fix your schools, or give you decent hospitals or banks. Instead, [they] paint the back sides of the buildings so that people driving to the suburbs will have something nice to look at." --"It's not like being in a jail. It's more like being 'hidden.' It's as if you have been put in a garage where, if they don't have room for something but aren't sure if they should throw it out, they put it where they don't need to think of it again." --"If you weave enough bad things into the fibers of a person's life--sickness and filth, old mattresses and other junk thrown in the streets and other ugly ruined things, and ruined people, a prison here, sewage there, drug dealers here, the homeless people over there, then give us the very worst schools anyone could think of, hospitals that keep you waiting for ten hours, police that don't show up when someone's dying, take the train that's underneath the street in the good neighborhoods and put it up above where it shuts out the sun, you can guess that life will not be very nice and children will not have much sense of being glad of who they are. Sometimes it feels like we've been buried six feel under their perceptions." --"You see destruction around you, but you do not know who the destroyer is." --"Cops think of the building like a death camp. But if the police are scared to come there, why does the city put small children in the building?" --"There is nothing predatory in these children. They know that the world does not much like them and they try hard to be good to one another." --"You have to remember that for this little boy whom you have met, his life is just as important, to him, as your life is to you. No matter how insufficient or how shabby it may seem to some, it is the only one he has." --"Sometimes, in front of a wonderful place like FAO Schwartz, you wonder if poor kids like these have fantasies of breaking in and stealing toys or games, electric trains--whatever children play with nowadays. If they ever did it, if they just went in one night and cleaned the whole place out, you have to ask if they could ever steal back half as much as has been stolen from them." --"I think it grieves the heart of God when human beings created in His image treat other human beings like filthy rags." --"Another boy, I used to ask him, 'Where do you want to go eat?' He always said, 'McDonald's.' One time, when he was 12, I took him to a Burger King in Queens. I later learned from his teacher that he wrote an essay on our lunch, 'My Trip to Burger King'--the way that wealthy kids might write about a trip to Florida." --"This out here is not God's kingdom. A kingdom is a place of glory. This is a place of pain." --"Every child among us has a precious life and holds a precious dream." --"Going outside for youngsters in the building means going to the hallway, since the road outside, where they could get some air, is just too dangerous." --"I like to look at children on the train. You don't see many people who look friendly on the train. But children do. Some of them do. Some of them look joyful. Some of them say hello to you, even to strangers. No one else does. They want to be loved." --"With his intelligence, he could have been successful in an honest occupation. But he had nothing in his life but drugs." --"'Traumatization' as an ordinary state of mind is closer to the fact of things for many children here. They lead the life most people only read about." --"Many of the ambitions of the children are locked-in at a level that suburban kids would scorn. It's as if the very possibilities of life have been scaled back. Boys who are doing well in school will tell me, 'I would like to be a sanitation man.' I have to guard my words and not say anything to indicate my disappointment. In this neighborhood, a sanitation job is something to be longed for." --"If you want to get your outcasts out of sight, first you need a ghetto and then you need a prison to take pressure off the ghetto. The fact that it doesn't make financial sense is not the point. Short-term terror and revulsion are more powerful than long-term wisdom or self-interest." --"Bigotry is not the only factor in the flight of some white children from these schools. Many of their parents simply don't believe these schools are good for any child, their own or anybody else's. So they put their own kids into private schools and try to raise some scholarships to pay for black kids to attend them, too. But it tends to be a triage operation. The black kids who get into private schools like these are screened quite carefully. So, in one sense, it simply makes things worse in public schools by pulling out the children that a teacher counts on to keep class discussions going and to spur the others to succeed." --"The view of the United States that children get in looking out the window of a school in Harlem or the Bronx is not one likely to affirm a sense of confidence in human goodness." --"Down south people let you know exactly where you stand. Here in New York they smile and smile and pat you on the head and then they send you back where you belong." --"If a woman's black, Hispanic, and on welfare, maybe a drug user, or has HIV, she knows she isn't welcome in a first-class hospital...If they wouldn't want you as a neighbor, why do you think they'd want you in the next bed?" --"Keepin' a man is not the biggest problem. Keepin' from bein' killed is bigger. Keepin' your kids alive is bigger. If nothin' else works, why should a marriage work?" --"Of course the family structure breaks down in a place like the South Bronx! Everything breaks down in a place like this. The pipes break down. The phone breaks down. The electricity and heat break down. The spirit breaks down. The body breaks down. The immune agents of the hearts break down. Why wouldn't the family break down also? If we saw the people in these neighborhoods as part of the same human family to which we belong, we'd never put them in such places to begin with. But we do not think of them that way. That is one area of 'family breakdown' that the experts and newspapers seldom speak of. They speak of the failures of the mothers we have exiled to do well within their place of exile. They do not condemn the pharaoh." --"It has to take extraordinary self-deceit for people who plant flowers on Park Avenue but pump their sewage into Harlem and transport their medical waste, and every other kind of waste that you can think of, to Mott Haven, to image that they have the moral standing to be judges of the people they have segregated and concealed. Only a very glazed and clever culture in which social blindness is accepted as a normal state of mind could possibly permit itself this luxury." --"The viral path of AIDS has crept through the family tree in many South Bronx neighborhoods, breaking branch after branch." --"Do I need this bottle of expensive perfume more than a child needs a doctor or a decent school? What does it mean, in theological terms, when grown-ups can eat caviar while Anthony eats oatmeal? What does this say about a city's soul?" The following are a variety of observations that Kozol makes throughout the book: --"Jeremiah and his friends do not speak during our meeting with the jargon that some middle-class Americans identify with inner-city kids. There's no obscenity in their speech, nor are there any of those flip code-phrases that are almost always placed within the mouths of poor black children in the movies--a style of speech, I sometimes think, that may be exaggerated by the media to lend a heightened sense of 'differentness' to children in the ghetto." --"In a deep side gutter, one small child, wearing only underpants, lies on his stomach in a pool of dirty water about six inches deep, slashing joyfully, pretending he can swim." --"This is where Bernardo played for eight and a half years. This is the best New York could do for him. The kennel where I leave my dog while I am in New York is cleaner and smells better." --"Anabelle's images of heaven give me a delightful feeling that I rarely have in New York City. I speak of these kinds of things as often as I can, and of the feelings children voice for animals they love, because I think they show us something very different from the customary picture we are given of a generation of young thugs and future whores. There is a golden moment here that our society has chosen not to seize. We have not nourished this part of the hearts of children, not in New York, not really anywhere." --"In order to keep these different children clear in my mind, I finally have to make a map of the South Bronx and put it on the wall over my desk, placing a marker on each block in which a child died, using one symbol for death by fire, one for death by accident, and one for death by gunshot." --"Twice as many black men in New York are under control of the criminal justice system as are enrolled full-time in all the colleges within the state." --"It is at the secondary level--in junior high and, more dramatically, in high school--that the sense of human ruin on a vast scale becomes unmistakable. Numbers cannot convey the mood of desolation that pervades some of these secondary schools." --"At one junior high school in the South Bronx in which money was so scarce in 1994 that girls were using pieces of TV cable as their jump ropes at the time I visited the area, only 15 teachers in a faculty of 54 were certified." --"So long as the most vulnerable people in our population are consigned to places that the rest of us will always shun and flee and view with fear, I am afraid that educational denial, medical and economic devastation, and aesthetic degradation will be virtually inevitable...So long as there are ghetto neighborhoods and ghetto hospitals and ghetto schools, I am convinced there will be ghetto desperation, ghetto violence, and ghetto fear because a ghetto is itself an evil and unnatural construction." --"One wants instead to know how certain people hold up under terrible ordeals, how many more do not, how human beings devalue other people's lives, how numbness and destructiveness are universalized, how human pity is at length extinguished and the shunning of the vulnerable can come in time to be perceived as natural behavior...How does a nation deal with those whom it has cursed?" --"A handful of good, publicly funded clinics, which are perennially overcrowded, try to compensate for the abandonment of New York City's poorest children by much of its medical establishment." --"239 of 277 swings for children in Bronx parks aren't 'in place' or 'need repair.' Trivial as it is, this disappointing detail seems to say it all."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Greg Chandler

    Published in the 1990s this book focuses on the plight of Blacks, especially children, living in the poorest sections of New York City - the ghettos of the South Bronx. At that time, at the height of the Aids crisis, a huge portion of the black and Hispanic population was infected , or affected by the illness or death of someone with AIDS. Kopzol anecdotally, and through statistics, details the horrific living conditions of the community and the apathy, even hostility, directed at them from thos Published in the 1990s this book focuses on the plight of Blacks, especially children, living in the poorest sections of New York City - the ghettos of the South Bronx. At that time, at the height of the Aids crisis, a huge portion of the black and Hispanic population was infected , or affected by the illness or death of someone with AIDS. Kopzol anecdotally, and through statistics, details the horrific living conditions of the community and the apathy, even hostility, directed at them from those better off. The 1960s into the 1970s held great promise for fighting poverty and for providing all American citizens with their civil rights. Some time after that, we got tired of the complaints and the intractable problems faced by minorities and the poor. In NYC, homeless shelters in Manhattan were emptied and the residents sent to live in places like the South Bronx, where the proportion of poor, sick and unemployed had already reached critical mass. "why", asks one interviewee "would the city send children into such a poisonous environment?". Kozol illuminates the inequities created when the poor and sick are segregated, hidden away behind murals depicting happy homes that are painted on empty buildings, while families live in decrepit projects without water or heat. The city, recognizing that people will freeze to death distributes sleeping bags, rather than provide actual livable shelter. I don't know how dated the material is. Certainly, the AIDs epidemic is getting a lot less press these days, and there are combinations of drugs that can be used to combat it (if the patient has adequate insurance - a big if for the very poor). But despite annual pleas for a living minimum wage, many people are still living in poverty. In the poorest neighborhoods, not even low-paying food service or service industry jobs may be available. As a society, we seem to have given up the "war on poverty", turning our collective backs on our most vulnerable citizens. The book, calling attention to these overlooked, purposefully forgotten people, calls for action. But no specific actions are really suggested. These are after all, intractable problems. Even thropwing money at the problems offers no more than a bandaid approach, but we are in economic times that promote a political agenda of "helping the middle class", where the middle class may mean someone earning half a million dollars a year. Tax cuts planned provide yet more welfare for the very rich, while no one does more than pay the least bit of lip service to helping the very poor. The poor do not vote - and they don't fund campaigns or pay graft. we are increasingly an oligarchy, where only the top 1% of the wealthiest people really have a say in government and use that opportunity to make themselves even richer.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly Jackson

    Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, a New York Times Bestseller, was written by Jonathan Kozol and published by Harper Collins on September 27th 1996. Initially, I was not a fan of the book. I was struggling to stay interested as I read through the first chapter. There were some parts in the beginning of the book that were attention grabbers to me, but I didn’t start to get into to the book until about the second or third chapter. As I continued to read the book, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, a New York Times Bestseller, was written by Jonathan Kozol and published by Harper Collins on September 27th 1996. Initially, I was not a fan of the book. I was struggling to stay interested as I read through the first chapter. There were some parts in the beginning of the book that were attention grabbers to me, but I didn’t start to get into to the book until about the second or third chapter. As I continued to read the book, I found myself getting sucked into life in the South Bronx as explained by Kozol. I believe Kozol’s purpose in writing the book was to introduce the reader to life and death in the South Bronx. Throughout the book, Kozol covers topics ranging from overcrowded schools, to depression and anxiety, to the spread of AIDS. Through Kozol’s work, I was able to understand the stories of individuals who really had nothing at all. I was able to get an idea on what it was like to live in one of the most poorest, racially segregated, places in the United States. It was very mind blowing for me to see how toxic a place could be. I one hundred percent recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading it. Kozol has an amazing writing style, and definitely knows how to succeed in expressing his message.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    This book should be a must-read for everyone if things are to change. The author writes movingly and powerfully about the children and their mothers of one of the poorest places in the US, Mott Haven in the Bronx of New York. The events are disturbing and the children's voices and observations are unforgettable. How can this happen? The people with enough money to help change things don't. The people with enough courage try. This book was published in 1995, but I'd guess that nothing much has ch This book should be a must-read for everyone if things are to change. The author writes movingly and powerfully about the children and their mothers of one of the poorest places in the US, Mott Haven in the Bronx of New York. The events are disturbing and the children's voices and observations are unforgettable. How can this happen? The people with enough money to help change things don't. The people with enough courage try. This book was published in 1995, but I'd guess that nothing much has changed in those areas. Now we have drugs everywhere, but it's nothing new to the Bronx. The mothers and children living there don't have the basics, and yet we as a nation allow this to continue. All of us need to educate our children differently so that these problems can be solved and the use of drugs and violence disappears. Is this possible? Of course it is, but it may take generations and we need to begin now. In the meantime, we somehow need to embrace the poorest in our nation and help them. It doesn't always involve money; sometimes an attitude is all important.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bedrooped Bookworms

    This is Jonathan Kozol’s report of the South Bronx in 1995. Grossly underfunded schools, rampant drugs, murder, death, and AIDS, police who refuse to show up and do their jobs, hospitals that are so understaffed and overfilled they can’t serve the community, welfare programs totally broken, and disturbing housing situations. Somehow, through these terrible circumstances, the children still speak of God and heaven and prayers. I read this book for a graduate class. Highly did not enjoy it. This bo This is Jonathan Kozol’s report of the South Bronx in 1995. Grossly underfunded schools, rampant drugs, murder, death, and AIDS, police who refuse to show up and do their jobs, hospitals that are so understaffed and overfilled they can’t serve the community, welfare programs totally broken, and disturbing housing situations. Somehow, through these terrible circumstances, the children still speak of God and heaven and prayers. I read this book for a graduate class. Highly did not enjoy it. This book just shows the total brokenness of our societal systems and the extreme intersection of poverty and racism. I’m not sure how this helps me become a better teacher but it’s definitely a portrait of a system greatly in need of redemption. 4 of 10 overall and 2 of 5 for readability. Tough to read, sad, and I’m not sure what the moral of the story was other than our world kind of sucks. -Holly For more reviews, check out: bedroopedbookworms.wordpress.com

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sidney

    To understand poverty in America, it seems that Kozol is a must read. To anyone considering reading this book, I'd recommend reading his Fire in the Ashes (2012), as it will be more current than these 1995 observations on life in the South Bronx. That being said, I found Kozol's interviews with Mrs. Washington, Mr. Castro and Anthony to be poignant observations of daily life in a land with little hope. The facts and statistics of life in this American neighborhood are startling, and cause me to To understand poverty in America, it seems that Kozol is a must read. To anyone considering reading this book, I'd recommend reading his Fire in the Ashes (2012), as it will be more current than these 1995 observations on life in the South Bronx. That being said, I found Kozol's interviews with Mrs. Washington, Mr. Castro and Anthony to be poignant observations of daily life in a land with little hope. The facts and statistics of life in this American neighborhood are startling, and cause me to wonder what as changed in the last 23 years. Thank you, Brendan, for sharing a book that I should have read 23 years ago.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Sigh. White person goes into ghetto and converses with the children there. This time we’re in the Bronx in the 90s. I need to stop reading about poverty for a while. I have real trouble mustering up sympathy for people who keep having children they can’t afford. Abortion is legal! I know – it’s normal to want to leave a legacy, to find purpose in raising another human being. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t make it wrong. Sadly, these kids don’t really stand a chance. They live in a crime-infes Sigh. White person goes into ghetto and converses with the children there. This time we’re in the Bronx in the 90s. I need to stop reading about poverty for a while. I have real trouble mustering up sympathy for people who keep having children they can’t afford. Abortion is legal! I know – it’s normal to want to leave a legacy, to find purpose in raising another human being. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t make it wrong. Sadly, these kids don’t really stand a chance. They live in a crime-infested neighborhood with terrible schools and highly stressed parents, not enough food and little prospects. I’m so bloody sad.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mariah

    This book is a great way to gain insight into what poverty in America looks like. The interviews are bluntly honest about how the poor residents in the Bronx feel about their situation and how they feel people view them, because of their situation. I think this is a great book for everyone to read to understand the differences in society between wealth and poverty and how it connects to race. It can't make someone fully understand what it is like to be in the same situation, but I definitely fel This book is a great way to gain insight into what poverty in America looks like. The interviews are bluntly honest about how the poor residents in the Bronx feel about their situation and how they feel people view them, because of their situation. I think this is a great book for everyone to read to understand the differences in society between wealth and poverty and how it connects to race. It can't make someone fully understand what it is like to be in the same situation, but I definitely felt that it helped me see a different perspective of the world and how things work.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Camille Solo

    This book was just as informational, as it was emotional and descriptive. I found it really inspiring and devastating at the same time. It inspired every kind of emotion one desires to derive from a book at the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mr.

    Humane look at the lives of those living in New York's most impoverished neighbourhoods.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Francesco Marchio

    I thought the stories were repeated throughout the book which really annoyed me and also there were too many characters to remember.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nina Exene Wood

    EVERYONE should read this book. It is emotionally difficult, as it should be.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Holly Ristau

    A visit to the schools in the poorest part of the New York Ghetto. Good but bleak.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Dave

    My first experience with Kozol was in this book. I return to it often.

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