While we are in the throes of COVID-19, we need to remind ourselves that pandemics are not new and that many of them have been many times more deadly than the pandemic we face today. Our current crises is only eighth (3.4 million deaths) out of others like the Black Death (1347-1351 AD) at number one with 200 million deaths, The Smallpox in the New World (1520-1796) at number two with 56 million deaths, and the Spanish Flu (1918-1919) at number three with 40-50 million deaths. We must also remind ourselves that there will be future pandemics facing humanity.
Nardo gives the reader a look at pandemics of the past and helps us understand what science has learned from them. He also goes into the effect that disease had on the New World, both in loss of life of the indigenous population and the effect on the economy of their deaths. The Aztec people were almost totally wiped out by disease. Since they believed that the diseases were caused by gods and since they noticed that the conquerors were not getting sick (because of the immunity they had developed), many of them turned to the new god as their salvation.
He explains that the need for many laborers to work fields and the lack of indigenous people to do that led to the expansion of the African slave trade. Many Africans, like the Europeans, had developed immunity to the diseases which were killing off the natives. Nardo ends the work with a good discussion of COVID-19 and what has happened so far. He does not take sides on the debates swirling in our society. He provides facts and allows the reader to make his/her own decision. The book has excellent illustrations, a good bibliography and index. I think it will be very useful for middle school, high school, and public libraries.
This set takes a very in-depth look at the lives of teens in many countries around the world. I was initially impressed by the clear introduction to the set. There is not an emphasis of one continent over another. The set is in alphabetical order by country starting with Australia (Some countries I thought might have been included were Afghanistan and Argentina.)
The lives of the teens living in each country is the main focus, but each section starts with a Country Overview. The discussion then moves to Schooling and Education, Extracurricular Activities: Art, Music and Sport, Family and Social Life, Religious and Cultural Rites of Passage, Rights and Legal Status, and finally, Inequalities. In each section the statistics contain in-text bibliographic referencing. A thorough bibliographical list concludes each section. It is definitely an encyclopedia designed for grades 12 and up since the readability of the text is grade 12 on the Fry chart.
The biographic information at the end of vol.2 tells the reader that the editor and the contributors are all very well-educated; and, thus, one would tend to believe that the factual material being presented would be true and accurate. However, that is not the case in this instance. As I began to read the text, I ran across this sentence: “Egypt also shares borders with Turkey and Jordan.” (The co-contributor is the editor.) That statement I knew to be totally false. Next, I ran across what I believed to be either a poorly formed sentence or an outright lack of knowledge of geography on the part of the contributor – which, by the way was the editor, herself. I submitted that particular sentence for scrutiny to a group of English teachers on a Facebook page, who – much to my surprise – pointed out, not only needed changes in the syntax, but also a flagrant error in geography. This is that sentence: “France is a Western European country bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea to the West and the South and the Alps and the Pyrenees to the East.” My teacher friends quickly pointed out that the Pyrenees were to the west of France, not to the east.
In the face of not one, but two, glaring errors in the text, I began to question whether or not to recommend the purchase of the set. At $204.00 it represents a big chunk of a school’s library budget. My main problem lies in the fact that if there are any factual errors in any non-fiction work, the entire piece becomes suspect.
I cannot, in good conscience recommend the purchase of this set. Although there most likely are many things that are true, it is not possible to trust all of them to the editor’s veracity. The reader should be receiving positive truth – not possible truth. Do not spend your limited resources on this set.
In an election year, such as this is, a series of this type would most likely have a prominent place in any school library. Each begins with a definition of the political ideology being discussed. Next is a discussion of the position of its proponents in regard to politics and government. This is followed by the position of the adherents in regard to the economy and finally in regard to our culture and/or society. Each book has a chronology which the author feels best suits the discussion at hand. This is followed by a short glossary of important words, a section for further exploration of the topic and a bibliography of sources used by the author. There is a brief index and a short biographical sketch of the author of each text. Within the text are starred pages which give further information about some aspect of the topic at hand. I found those pages disrupted my reading of the text since they were not clearly tied into the flow of the material being presented. Pictures, maps and charts are included in each book. Those items are well-placed, well-labeled, and they give added information to the reader. While these books may be timely, I urge you to consider carefully whether or not to purchase them.
In evaluating any non-fiction book, the reader must first look at the credentials of the author. Who is this person? What authority are they using to give out this information? And, are they presenting factual material without bias? To that end I began to read the biographical sketches in the books. They did not give me any pertinent information about the qualifications of the writers. I found that most were professional writers of some sort. Some were also involved in their communities. In no case could I clearly discern the political position of the writer. I found that vaguely disturbing; by that I mean, if a person writes about one side of a political position, and yet the writer is really an adherent of the opposite side, the writing that person produces will be biased toward his/her own position.
The book on Libertarians has no discussion at all about their position on drugs, alcohol or sex. The author only points out that they do not believe in ANY limitations of the freedoms of man. I think the omission of the discussion of their position on those items is a deliberate omission for younger readers, but it is clearly deceptive because it does not give the entire picture of the party.
I was also struck by the political ideologies that were omitted in the series. One often sees the term “Capitalism” paired with “Liberalism.” Yet, the publisher totally omitted a book entitled, Who Are Liberals and What Do They Believe? Two other political ideologies not discussed in detail are Socialism and Communism. All three of these ideologies are prominent in our society; yet, they seem to be lumped together into the discussion of “Progressives.” Words have denotations and connotations. “Progressive” has a kinder, less threatening connotation than does “liberalism, socialism, or communism.” One wonders if that is why those ideologies were left out of the series.
It is also interesting that, if the reader were to take the position of the writers of these books, one would label Donald Trump as a Populist, because he believes that government is hurting the U.S., as a Nationalist because he actually said he was a nationalist, and as a Conservative because he wants to hold onto the traditional values of America. The respective authors said that: Populism may be more successful now since Trump’s election than at any other time (Anderson); Nationalism has undertones of racism (Potter) No proof of this was given, however; and that Conservatives want America to be all Christian again.(Small) This is just blatantly untrue. Conservatives hold the First Amendment as extremely important. Finally, the author of the book on progressives actually says that they “position themselves in opposition to a system that they see as heartless, cruel, and alienating.” Personally, I find those word offensive, but I’m probably not allowed to be offended. It appears that the series wants the reader to believe that only the Progressives are the “good guys.” Biased writing?
THINK before you spend your money on this series.
Series: Politics Today by Cavendish Square Press. New York, 2020
Who Are Populists: and What do They Believe In? by Zachary Anderson. 9781502645197 (lib. bdg.), $34.21.
Who Are Libertarians and What Do They Believe In? by Tempra Board. 9781502645258 (lib. bdg.) $34.21.
Who Are Nationalists and What Do They Believe In? by Josh Potter.. 978150265166 (lib. bdg.). $34.21.
Who Are Conservatives and What Do They Believe In? by Cathleen Small. 9781502645135 (lib. bdg.).
Who Are Progressives and What do They Believe In? by Matt Bougie, 9781502645227) (lib. bdg.).
Once in a while I am given a book that demands my full attention. This is such a one. A friend of mine had suggested that I read this and tell him what I thought about it. To be honest, I thought that it would be a bunch of one-sided political ideas. It is that to some extent, but it is much more than that. Horowitz takes the reader on a stroll through history since the French Revolution to the present day. From the day that those revolutionaries changed the name of the Cathedral of Notre Dame to the “Temple of Reason” Christianity began to be under serious attack on the political front.
Horowitz then proceeds to inform the reader of step-by-step very calculated moves to bring the world in line with the position of Karl Marx that religion is “the opiate of the people and “the sigh of the oppressed.” We are very clearly seeing that happening in America. I have recently seen posts online of the “hatred” spewed by “evangelicals” in America. Speaking out against sin itself is now considered “hate speech.” These comments are the outgrowth of the movement to dismantle our religious freedoms and thus to take down our very country.
I celebrate the idea of free will. Horowitz says, “Free will is what makes us equal.” only as truly being individuals and expressing our thoughts, as such, are we really free men. Our society has begun to try to force us to think of ourselves ONLY as a part of a group (black, white, male, female, gay, straight, etc.) “In identity politics only collective rights matter.” This is truly “politics of hate.” He says, “The left has no conscience or restraint when it comes to destroying people that stand in its way.” We have definitely seen this played out in the riots after the election, the attack on the Supreme Court nominee, and now the blatant attacks on churches and evangelicals.
One term which the reader will have to come to grips with is “social justice.” Many churches are using that term to describe their philanthropic efforts. Horowitz says that the use of that term is just a synonym for “communism,” but since its use is more socially acceptable in America the leftists have latched onto it as a useful tool. There are many social issues that Horowitz explores in this book. Each one is carefully documented and fully explained.
One such issue is that of abortion. Horowitz discusses how that issue is playing out in America. He points out that Margaret Sanger was mostly interested in building a master race, and that in order to do that, all substandard people must go. Her movement for contraption and abortion was not to benefit the lives of the poor but to limit the growth of African Americans. Delores Grier, an American black woman pointed this out. She said, “Abortion is racism.” Yet, America has bought into this without even knowing what it was really doing. It is no accident that most abortion clinics are in predominately black neighborhoods. In 2013 more African-American babies (29,002)were aborted in New York City alone than were born there (24,788).
Another social issue is that of LGBTQ rights. Andrew Sullivan, a gay liberal activist, began to realize how the left was beginning to use gay rights as a tool to destroy America, In 2018 he warned “The whole concept of an individual is slipping from the bedrock of American experiment. Free speech, due process, and individual rights are now being understood as masks for “white male power.”…Any differences of opinion are seen as “hate.”” I found it interesting that a gay man would see the problem so clearly and to see it before some so-called “intellectuals” see it.
Horowitz ends with the conundrum of how religious institutions can support such a morally flawed individual as Donald Trump. It is probably best summed up by Tony Perkins. ” My support for Trump has never been based on shared values; it is based on shared concerns.” Trump’s message is clearly that of, “Our country has gone off-course, and we need to bring it back.”
Dark Agenda: Read it if you dare. You may or may not agree with his conclusions, but you will not look at what is happening in America the same way as you once did if you take time to read this book. Unfortunately, many people will blindly continue to ignore his warnings, and discussion of the content may become impossible. Many will see his writings as “hate speech.” The fact that they do see it that way only proves his position, but they will not see it.
The subtitle of this book really tells most of the story of the book. It is an inspiring story of a brave little girl who at nine, with the help of her sponsors, came half way around the world by herself in order to have the chance to walk on her own two feet. Rebekah had been born with twisted arms and legs and her parents were urged by others in her home in Rwanda to abandon her by the side of the road and let her die. But her parents refused to do that. Instead, they encouraged her to do everything that she possibly could do and then go beyond that.
Doctors in Rwanda tried to straighten her legs once when she was about four, but it didn’t work. Rebekah could not walk to school, so her younger sister taught her everything she was learning each evening when she came home. Rebekah taught herself to walk, instead of crawling around on the ground. However, she had to walk on the tops of her feet since her feet were twisted all the way to the back. Nevertheless, she persisted, and although she never could get her arms to work correctly, she learned how to eat and brush her teeth. One day she found out that a person from America had sponsored her, providing her family with a guarantee of food and a chance for her to go to school. This is itself encouraged her to keep up working toward her goal of walking and going to school.
She did not know that her sponsor was a doctor in America. One day another family who had sponsored children from her village came to visit them. Mr. Clay Davis saw her need and realized that he knew her sponsor and that her sponsor, Dr. Rice, might be able to find another doctor who could help Rebekah walk. Thus began the saga of Rebekah’s struggle to be able to walk. Her father and mother knew that she had lived for a reason, and so they were able to let their little girl go to a strange land with people they did not know to find the help they could not give.
The author of the book is Mrs. Clay Davis. Meredith and Clay Davis not only helped Rebekah come to the U.S. They provided a home for her and treated her as their own daughter through the years that she had to undergo treatments and surgeries. She tells Rebekah’s story from her firsthand knowledge and uses Rebekah’s words to explain all of Rebekah’s emotional turmoil.
I think this book deserves a place in every library. It is a testimony to the power of faith and perseverance. While the people involved in the story are obviously Christian, the story is not overtly about their faith. It shines through, though, because faith is like that. When it exists, people notice, even if editors may have pruned out overt religious references. Buy this for your upper elementary and middle school children – even if it is only for the cultural references which abound in the book.
Clementine has just turned sixteen and Mother Fleur, the housemistress, is preparing her for her Lucky Night, the night she will finally become a woman. She and her sister Aster have lived with Mother Fleur for 10 years since her parents had to sell the girls or let them starve to death. Since Aster was older than Clementine, she had already had her Lucky Night. Aster tells her nothing about the night except to NOT drink the Sweet Thistle (a type of narcotic) that Mother Fleur would give her and to think about a song while she entertained the brag that had paid a big price for her.
No one tells her what she is expected to do or what the brag will do, just that she is to make him happy. Nothing goes as it should and her brag lies dead on the floor. The only thing she can do is to get someone to help her and then to run as far as she can before the raveners, creatures that can get into ones mind and destroy it, get her. Aster comes to her aid, along with three other good luck girls, Tansy, Mallow and Violet. Their escape is frantic and often violent. A young tracker finds them and actually helps them instead of turning them in as he should.
This is a fast-paced story set in a fanciful, yet very realistic world that will keep the reader turning pages as fast as possible. Davis has taken on a very disturbing social situation, sex slave trafficking, in a thoughtful and discrete manner. There are some implied sexual scenes and some very violent scenes of beatings and murder. I definitely recommend this book for high school readers.