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Dust of the Earth Paperback – September 1, 1994

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Inspired by the warmth and courage of JT Pace, Ms. Hess wanted to share his story with others. Although she chose to write a fictionalized biography, she notes that "those events of his life chosen for dramatization accurately convey the essence of Mr. Pace's character and the reality of his struggles."

Ms. Hess holds degrees in both history and dramatic production. Best known for her two historical novels--A Father's Promise and In Search of Honor, she has also written for stage and television productions.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Bob Jones University (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890847630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890847633
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,512,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
JT Pace lived in fear that others would discover his humiliating secret. When he was a sensitive young child he wanted to go to school, but a teacher's impatience with his stuttering caused him never to go again. His father taught him to figure, so that he would not be cheated out of wages, and most people assumed that JT could read. It was after he met the Lord that JT realized he needed to read. The Word of God was necessary for him to live, and he prayed that if he couldn't learn to read, that God would take him home, to learn from Him in heaven. The story is about his determination to have a better life than his parents, but it also shows his pain that he must hide his illiteracy from everyone. He finally did learn to read, and the book closes with his words, "Today, this is my desire: to see the Man I've been hearing about for thirty-three years. I've only been reading about Him for nine years, and now I want to see Him."
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Format: Paperback
This is a fictionalized account of the real-life experience of JT Pace, the son of a black sharecropper growing up in the 1930s, on into his adulthood in the 40s and 50s. Throughout his life, he considers his illiteracy to be a shameful secret that he hides from even those closest to him. The inspiration for finally learning to read in adulthood is when he becomes a Christian and wants to be able to read the Word of God for himself.

This book is a good look into this time period in American history. It also illustrates the differing attitudes that black Americans had to face. Some were very prejudiced toward JT, while others treated him as they treated whites. You see the balance faced between avoiding confrontation when possible and a recognition of the fact that blacks should be treated as the equals of whites. You see those who became defeated in the face of the discrimination, those who became angry and hateful (on both sides), and then you see those who were beacons of love and peace, both black and white.

There are a few pages in the middle of the book when a young black man makes a good argument for the equality of blacks and whites based on the Bible. He makes the point that both black and white people are created in the image of God and that all were created from the same dust of the earth. He argues that the only difference between men in God's eyes is between those who follow Him and those who do not. He sees the gospel as the only basis for a true recognition of the equality of blacks and whites, making them all brothers in Christ.

The book does use dialect for JT's speech. However, most of the whites in the area he grew up in are also portrayed as speaking in the same dialect (i.e. it's a cultural thing, not a racial thing).
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