Posts filed under 'Human Rights Issues'

The Rock and the River
by Kekla Magoon

1968: Racial tensions are escalating in cities across America, including fourteen-year-old Sam’s hometown of Chicago. The struggle for racial equality has even divided Sam’s own family—his father is a civil rights activist, but Sam’s older brother, Stephen, a.k.a. Stick, has joined the Black Panthers. Sam respects his father, but as he sees an increasing number of violent acts perpetrated by whites against blacks, he begins to think that Stick has the right idea. Author’s note.

JLG Review: The Rock and the River provides a fresh take on the civil rights movement. Rather than writing only about the division between blacks and whites, debut author Kekla Magoon concentrates on a less-explored aspect of the time period, the split between blacks who practiced nonviolent resistance and those who attempted violent revolution.

NOTE: COHS Titans–The above review is excerpted from the Junior Library Guild. (Meaning that I didn’t write it and don’t want to take credit from something I didn’t do!) We belong to the Junior Library Guild and purchase four books from them each month, so we have access to these reviews. I’m going to start posting excerpts from the reviews in the hope that you will see what great books we get from JLG–and come check them out! If you want to read the whole review, ask your English teacher. I have made copies for him or her to post in the classroom.

April 21, 2009

“The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria Perhaps I’m feeling too much like ‘Chicken Little” (“The sky is falling!”), but lately I’ve been drawn to books about the future of both the world and the United States. Thankfully, I’ve generally enjoyed reading them, as I find their assertions to be thought-provoking without being alarmist. I also think that they would be very useful for a debate or an ‘issue’ paper. So it is with “The Post-American World,” a book that provides rich detail about the future of the world and the United States’ place in that future—economic, political and cultural.

I know the author’s work from reading copies of “Newsweek” magazine where Zakaria is an editor and consistently contributes articles on international issues. The title of “The Post-American World” sounds alarming, but Zakaria’s take on the future is very positive—provided that we don’t panic and remember that America has adapted to change before and has learned to excel. Zakaria argues that the United States is not ‘racing to the bottom,’ but that other countries are coming up in the world to be on more equal footing with America—and that’s a good thing because it takes people out of poverty and desperation. Excellent topics of research and discussion in this book include the rise of both India and China. India is an ‘inefficient’ democracy—as all democracies are because people can’t be told what to do by a dictating government. China on the other hand, though embracing capitalism in the last twenty years as an economic system, is still a dictatorship, willing to use brutal tactics in the name of progress and efficiency. Zakaria shows the reader why ‘inefficient democracies’ can continue to grow and succeed in changing times.

Another topic that would make a great argument for a history class project is what the United States should do to secure its future (and how it must be unlike Britain of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries)–not as a unipolar world power but as a legitimate broker of world power, the ally that is the hub in a wheel of nations, connected to the US through spokes of diplomacy.

January 21, 2009

“In Our Own Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Will Help Us All” by William F. Schulz

“In Our Own Best Interest” is a great choice for students concerned about global issues, students who care about what happens to other people and students who are writing or debating on any controversial issue related to these themes—public health and access to it, economic policies, environmental policies and human rights at home and abroad. The author, who was the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA when he wrote the book, obviously believes that people have a moral obligation to care about others. However, the book itself moves beyond this argument to detail the many ‘selfish’ reasons—practical reasons—that working for others’ rights benefits us. Don’t skip the introductions (yes, there are more than one!) because Schulz discusses his interaction with high school students.

In Schulz’s words, here’s what he hopes to achieve with the book:

“I propound here no grand new theory of international relations nor offer revelations about human rights that are unavailable to the avid reader of high-quality newspapers. Rather, this book is intended to reframe the debate about human rights for the intelligent layperson who wants to understand the role of human rights play in the United States and it people. It is designed to take the human rights debate out of the hands of ‘experts’ (on both sides) and make it accessible to the average American. After all, their interests are really at stake here, and it is they who will pay the highest price for American indifference. . . .

“Second, the human rights I treat herein are the traditional civil and political ones, like the right to vote, to express opinions without fear of retaliation, to demand a fair trial, to be free from torture.”

The book includes an appendix that is a directory of human rights organizations.

If you are doing research on human rights, global climate change, foreign policy, economic policy, or the changing business and economic map of the world, other good books to check out (whether you agree with their arguments or wish to refute them!) are “The World is Flat” and “Hot, Flat and Crowed” by Thomas L. Friedman; and “The Post-American World” by Fareed Zakaria. I’m hoping to write a little review of each very soon.

January 7, 2009


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