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Customer Review

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars In-depth accounts, though rather impersonal, September 6, 2012
This review is from: Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America (Hardcover)
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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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Initial post: Sep 28, 2013 1:43:49 PM PDT
I am listening to this book on CD as I drive to and from work, and the voice artist who reads changes his accent to "paint" the people whom he imitates in such a way that it feels more personal than just reading the text. In my experience Kozol relates these stories in a very personal way and shows his attachment to these people. He captures their voices and their circumstances in such a real way. It is touching to hear how he flew to see people when they were ill, and to see how they went from not knowing if he was the "genuine article" when he initially met them. Invariably his friends saw that his care and concern were sincere. As a listener to this book, I can honestly say I felt the strong bonds in the first chapters and I look forward to hearing about the survivors in the second half of the book.
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