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Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America Hardcover – August 28, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052467
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052462
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2012
A Booklist 2012 Editor’s Choice Selection

“Kozol’s storytelling gifts shine through: with simple anecdotes that show the soulful humor, compassion, and wisdom that kindles progress among the survivors.” – Christian Science Monitor

Fire in the Ashes isn’t some saccharine account of how disadvantaged youth get a break and then triumph over adversity.  Instead, Kozol shows us the very real costs of putting children in bad schools….Throughout, Kozol connects with these kids and young adults on a human level, refusing to step on to some political soapbox.” – Boston Globe

“As I read Fire in the Ashes and thought about Kozol's admirably principled commitment to chronicling the lives of the urban poor, I marveled at his staying power.  His tone, too, has been consistent for almost 50 years – cool, smart, empathetic and, despite all the evidence to rebut his convictions, full of hope….Kozol's brilliant body of work shines a light not merely on the lives of the poor, but also into the dark night of the American soul.” – Portland Oregonian

“Check out this magnificent book, because I think you’ll like it.  For anyone [who] cares about his fellow human, Fire in the Ashes burns bright.” – Savannah Morning News

“Engrossing chronicle of lives blighted and redeemed....Eschewing social science jargon and deploying extraordinary powers of observation and empathy, Kozol crafts dense, novelistic character studies that reveal the interplay between individual personality and the chaos of impoverished circumstances.  Like a latter-day Dickens (but without the melodrama), he gives us another powerful indictment of America's treatment of the poor.” – Publisher's Weekly (starred)

“In this engaging, illuminating, often moving book, [Kozol] recounts the lives of poor black and Latino children—many now close friends—who once lived in Manhattan’s Martinique Hotel….Cleareyed, compassionate and hopeful.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“An engaging look at the broader social implications of ignoring poverty as well as a very personal look at individuals struggling to overcome it.”  - Booklist (starred)

“Jonathan Kozol is America’s premier chronicler of life among the children of societal neglect. And Fire in the Ashes may be his best book yet . . . . Kozol does not just write about these people; he becomes an intimate part of their lives, sharing their triumphs, defeats, and, too often, mourning their deaths . . . . If you care about the children who are the future of America, this is a book you must read.”
—Ellis Cose, author of The End of Anger and The Rage of a Privileged Class
 
“Despite the steep odds stacked against these childrenwhich too many cannot overcomethis is a hopeful book thanks to those who do. The incredible resilience, grit and grace of children like Pineapple are a call to urgent action.”
—Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund
 
“Kozol has a knack for describing his relationships with poverty-stricken children with a sympathy that is so straightforward one cannot indulge in pity.  Fire in the Ashes is a wonderful book. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Deborah Meier, author of In Schools We Trust and The Power of Their Ideas
 
Fire in the Ashes is a terrific book—powerful, insightful, and heartbreaking.”
—David Berliner, author of The Manufactured Crisis

About the Author

Jonathan Kozol is the National Book Award-winning author of Savage Inequalities, Death at an Early Age, The Shame of the Nation, and Amazing Grace.  He has been working with children in inner-city schools for nearly fifty years.

More About the Author

Jonathan Kozol has been awarded the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. His book Savage Inequalities was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and became a national bestseller.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The book is very easy reading.
Dienne
Jonathan Kozol has written a book about his experiences and life in New York City's Martinique Hotel and Mott Haven section in the South Bronx.
Sylviastel
The true stories in this book should make you feel something--and hopefully do something.
LA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne Amara VINE VOICE on July 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this fine book, Jonathan Kozol revisits children whose lives he has been involved with for many years. All have some connection to St. Ann's church in the Bronx and the services offered there. Kozol has written extensively about these children over the years, and been very involved in their lives. This book tells the next step of their stories.

In some ways, this is a wondefully hopeful book. Several of the children have finished college, others are living meaningful and service-oriented lives. Many have children of their own, and are good parents. However, in other ways, the book can lead to despair, in thinking of all these children had to endure in their lives, and when you think about the fact that their neighborhood is still full of failing schools and that America still seems to care little for its poor.

The main message here, as Kozol points out, is that the children that succeeded, although credit must be given to all of them for being extraordinary people, had help. They met someone at a crucial point in their life that gave them a leg up, a ear to listen to, help getting into the right school. Some of them had families that went above and beyond to do all they could to help them succeed. But none of them succeeded in a vacuum. We all need to take responsibility to help where we can, either within our own families or by helping the greater community. The cost of not doing this is high---prison, drug addiction, death.

I thank Jonathan Kozol for his life of caring.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book should make any reader angry and frustrated toward the criminally-negligent "public education" system that has basically failed/is failing inner city children for decades.

One problem is that it preaches to the converted - I was already impotently angry, and now I'm a little angrier and more cynical, but it seems like the people who could effect some change never bother to read accounts like this, or try to empathize with the situation at all.

To give some comparison - Post Traumatic Stress is legitimately in the news because of so many soldiers affected after 11 years of war and many multiple year-long deployments. The children - the CHILDREN - that Kozol writes about are growing up for their entire lives in hellish, crime-ridden environments not too far removed from war zones, and somehow they are expected to go to school and pass some absurd standardized test that's supposed to prove something. What they experience is the definition of PTSD - minus the "post" part - and it's happening when they're 7,8,9 years old, right through their teenage years.

It's a grotesque obscenity. Really, we shouldn't take ourselves seriously as a country when we sit on our hands and let this happen.

Kozol helps out a lot of the kids he met and wrote about - he quotes emails where they thank him for laptops that he helped provide them. He's doing the right thing - as he points out in an endnote, these children gave him a lot of their time, and they deserve compensation. But, this does feed into America's "winning the lottery" culture. Because these specific children were lucky enough to meet and engage Kozol, they're the ones with laptops, and inroads to better schools and opportunities.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Emily J. Morris VINE VOICE on September 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Before reading this book I had never heard of Jonathan Kozol and therefore am not really all that familiar with his work and the people with whom he has worked. Still, "Fire in the Ashes" managed to be an interesting read that rather had me itching to get back into the world of education.

Each chapter focuses on a particular child, and Kozol gives an account of that child's development or lack thereof over the years. The first few chapters are not the happiest, but serves as a decent comparision for the second portion of the book in which the success stories are presented.

The accounts are quite thorough and provided enlightening summaries of these kids' lives to the present--though Kozol's attention to detail and conversation somehow left everything, in my view, surprisingly impersonal. I do believe it would be unprofessional to create a work dedicated to tugging at heartstrings and tear ducts, but I still feel this is the type of book that should get me caring about the individuals. I did find myself much more educated and concerned about the situations of inner-city kids and their schools, but I failed to connect with anyone presented. A big part of me commends Kozol's just-the-facts approach with its scattered events and conversations, but it did leave me feeling rather neutral on the individuals.

This, however, does not take away from the enlightening importance of this book as it works to open eyes to unforunate situations. One may or may not agree with Kozol's politics and social views (which I feel he keeps respectfully in the background) but the book does lay out the undeniable situation at hand.

Personal taste is what fuels my recommendations here. Kozol presents the book and its people without any fanfare and some readers might want more of a conclusion and a point. But for those who just want the honest situation, this will be much appreciated.
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