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Americans Who Tell the Truth Hardcover – June 2, 2005

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 15 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1ST edition (June 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525474293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525474296
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 11.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10 -Shetterly introduces 50 esteemed Americans through their portraits and quotes. Some-Helen Keller, Muhammad Ali, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc.-will be familiar to most readers, but historian Howard Zinn and peace activists Samantha Smith and Kathy Kelly will likely be new to them. Some quotes make more sense than others. Henry David Thoreau said, "The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law free." How true. Molly Ivins says, "The best way to get the sons of bitches is to make people laugh at them." Uh, maybe sometimes. A few, taken out of context, hold little meaning. Dorothea Lange opined, "This is what we did. How did it happen? How could we?" At least one quote will have readers grabbing for the dictionary. Emma Goldman stated, "The greatest bulwark of capitalism is militarism." Fortunately, brief biographies are appended, helping to clarify many of the quotes. There is neither rhyme nor reason to the order of the individuals, as it is neither chronological nor alphabetical. Shetterly's fine illustrations, mostly somber, are fully realized. They go hand in hand with the quotes to acknowledge what the person was (or is) all about. This lovely portrayal will probably find its best use in enhancing civics classes. Because of its picture-book appearance, students might not gravitate to it on their own.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. This heartfelt book, a series of portraits (now a traveling exhibit), grew out of soul-searching after 9/11; it is both striking and highly personal. A New England fine artist and illustrator, Shetterly painted 50 people he greatly admires--freedom fighters, activists, and patriots all--who demonstrate political and social principles that foster "the fundamental dignity and equal worth of every individual." Each bordered portrait, set against a plain colored background that enhances the painting's bright highlights and dark hues, is accompanied by a few words of identification and a quote from the person. Subjects are varied. Readers will know Sojourner Truth, Mark Twain, and, perhaps, Molly Ivins; but most won't have a clue about Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, or Amy Goodman--odd, unexpected choices for a YA book. Teens can find out more in thumbnail profiles at the back, but they won't be as lucky with the quotes; only a few are sourced--a real missed opportunity. The book may inspire artists or encourage discussions on activism in America, past and present, but it is best suited to large collections. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

It would be a wonderful book to share with children, but adults will gain knowledge from it as well.
Rita B. K.
It presents ethical models that should inspire adults to face their fears and tell the truth...which, in turn, would make them models for children in their lives.
Anne S. Awad
An honest objective teacher should be ashamed to have this book in their possession much less use it in class.
James R. McCain, Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Javissimo on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had the privilege of seeing the exhibit at Columbia University in June, 2005. It was elegant and inspiring. What makes America a great nation is our right to question the party line. Indeed, that's the only way progress has ever been made. I felt proud of my country walking around the magnificent setting of this display. These were and are courageous people.

The derogatory reviews on this website seem obsessed by notions of "Marxists" who "hate America," thus rendering the book "garbage," or worse. I suppose these folks want to keep young minds safe from the destructive thoughts of famous American traitors such as Dwight D. Eisenhower, Walt Whitman, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Chief Joseph, Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Thoreau, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Twain, Helen Keller, John Muir, Woody Guthrie, Rachel Carson, Rosa Parks, and Bill Moyers, to name a few.

All Commies? Please! What are the detractors so afraid of? Can't they tolerate viewpoints that differ from theirs? The truth that America is not quite as "clean" as they'd like to believe? That we're a work in progress, and progress requires dissent, which involves uncomfortable soul searching?

See for yourself. Be inspired. Lord knows we need it now more than ever.
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Hans M. Petersen on August 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The responses to the book, "Americans Who Tell the Truth" were of great interest to me, given that I have used the book in the classroom and also worked with the artist, Rob Shetterly here in Louisville. While here, Rob worked with a middle school and high school program, both well regarded. Additionally, I wrote a curriculum for other teachers to share and to explore that appears on the website.

Neither school where Rob Shetterly worked and teachers pursued the curriculum, could be perceived as organizations interested in anything more than asking children to think and to ponder their place as citizens of this country.

When I wrote the currriuclum that accompanies the book and is published on the website, it had not occurred to me that anyone would use the book to persuade children to "hate" their country or anyone else in the world, for that matter. It had not occurred to me that we would be teaching children anything other than a way to look honestly at the country they live in and to consider those things that might impact the future they would inheirit. Rob Shetterly, in my mind and in my classroom, helped my students to understand that their voice DID matter.

We had students who did not agree with many of the things said by individuals in the portraits or with Rob, himself. But this was never the point of the study. The intention was to allow students to see first hand , from Rob himself, that when one has a feeling about one's country that using the gifts you have to express those can inspire and give hope to others.

I will ask anyone who sees this otherwise to look at student comments on the website and I will invite them to write reviews here of their experience.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly on August 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
...because this book is brilliant. Baseless, harpy reviews aside, this beautifully illustrated book is what America should be about. If one were to actually research what each of the members detailed in this book stood for, they'd realize that truth, integrity and honor are at the very core of their being.

The rants of the dissenters of this book sound amazingly Limbaugh and Coulter-esque, and therefore should be taken with a rather hefty grain of salt.
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63 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Dana Garrett on July 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Finally, a book that doesn't include the usual faux USA heroes: George Washington, named the "Town Destroyer, who had innocent Iroquois women and children butchered and who praised his soldiers for skinning them and using their skin to repair their boots; Andrew Jackson who violated over 40 treaties w/ the Cherokee people and forced them off their land and sent them packing to OK ill-equipped (a death march called "The Trial of Tears") resulting in the death of over 1/5 of the Cherokee population; Thomas Jefferson who raped his 15-year-old slave Sally Hemmings, raped her repeatedly over the years, impregnating her, even as he inveighed against the evils of slavery; etc.

One way to measure the objectivity of this book is to note the unholy alliances it has forged among its detractors. Consider the review by the "liberal" Alan M. Dershowitz printed in the right-wing reactionary Why does Dershowitz find Shetterly's exercise in free speech so offensive? Apparently because Shetterly, appropriately, lists among the heroes Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman.

I suspect that Dershowitz opposes Chomsky's inclusion because he still can't comprehend the possibility of an intellectual Jew unwilling to sacrifice his moral and intellectual integrity for the sake of the real estate aims of the nation of Israel. And he might oppose Goodman's inclusion because her program (Democracy Now) occasioned Norman Finkelstein deconstructing Deshowitz's "The Case for Israel" on the 9.24.03 broadcast before Deshowitz's helpless eyes.

Dershowitz opposes the book because "some of [the] hard-left radicals" the book includes "provided justifications for precisely the kind of violence that occurred on 9/11." This claim is laughably preposterous and Dershowitz knows it.
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