Remembering the past in all its glory and/or depravity is the first step to changing the future. Someone has said that if we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. Since Heidi Fried lived through the events of the Holocaust, she is able to help us see clearly what happened in the hope that we never repeat that history.
Some people today are so ignorant that they are even saying the Holocaust did not happen. Fried shows the reader clearly that it really happened. The question of why it happened at all is one that can never be answered to anyone’s satisfaction. It is probably best just to acknowledge that it did happen and to do everything in our power to see that it never happens again. That is Fried’s position.
Her book is designed to answer questions she has encountered over her lifetime. At the age of 90 she has reached the step of gerotransendence in her life and thus is able to look back at all that happened to her with a detachment that probably was not possible for her earlier. Her dispassionate responses to the questions are reflective of her age.
Fried explains about how World War II changed her life as a Romanian Jew who was from a good middle class family to being a slave in a labor/extermination camp. At nineteen, she was looking forward to continuing her education at a university, but instead she found herself orphaned with a younger sister to care for and to try to keep both of them alive. Fortunately, both girls were in their late teens and appeared strong enough to work—at least for a while—for the Nazis. Both girls survived and went to live in Sweden.
Fried answers over forty questions for the reader. Some of them are quite personal, such as: Where you raped? How did you handle your periods? Why did you choose Sweden? Others are more philosophical, such as: Why did Hitler hate the Jews? After all that has happened, do you still believe in God? Could it happen again?
Many authors have produced good works about the Holocaust, but I feel that first person narratives are the best source of true information. Every library should add this book to its collection. Social studies teachers would find this a very valuable source for discussions on the Holocaust. Fried even provides a list of discussion questions. I highly recommend the purchase of this book.
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.).
This eye-appealing, full color book on a very controversial subject is sure to raise questions and controversies in the libraries that may chose to add it to their collection. The purpose of the book is to provide the reader with the history of abortion and abortion rights. The abortion controversy is not easily resolved, regardless of how simple the author makes it seem. The author presents the anti-abortion issue as one of the oppression of women, trans-gendered men, and non-binary individuals. However, she has chosen to only present one side of the argument. The pro-life stand of religion is passed off as totally one of men trying to control women. The Christian position of when life begins is not discussed anywhere in the book. Many very religious people, both men and women, take the stand that life begins at conception, but this position is not mentioned at all in the book. I would not expect the author to present a positive take on when life begins, but to not mention it at all is to allow the reader to continue to think it as merely a “fetus” or a “collection of cells” – not a baby human.
It never seems to amaze me that our society gets very upset over clubbing baby seals for profit, but refuses to consider it murder to slice up and vacuum out a little human from its first home. I do believe that it may absolutely be necessary at times for a woman to have an abortion, and I fully support using birth control for people who do not choose to get pregnant. I do not and cannot subscribe to the position that women should have unfettered, free access to all forms of abortions. I digress. The purpose here is to explain why I do not think this book is appropriate for teen readers.
Some things are also glossed over, or simply not discussed. The reader is told that one in four women in North America will have an abortion; however, the reader must read the definition of abortion that the author gives on page ten to understand that she is including all terminations of all pregnancy for all reasons – including spontaneous abortions. The fact about one in four pregnancies ends in abortion may very well be true, but the fact is misleading because the reader, especially a young reader, will read that statement as “one in four end in some type of induced abortion.” Not true.
On page 76 the reader is presented with a list of MYTHS and FACTS about abortion. The first myth given is: “Having an abortion is dangerous for your health.” The fact given here is that: “The risks of continuing a pregnancy and delivering a baby are approximately 10 times higher than the risks of an abortion during the first trimester of a pregnancy.” Although the author clearly states that she is speaking only about the first trimester of a pregnancy, a young reader will not pick up on that, and will assume that any abortion, if done by a qualified person, is safe at any time. In that same list the author states a myth that “Having an abortion makes it difficult to get pregnant in the future.” She states the fact that “A safe, legal and uncomplicated first-trimester abortion has no effect on future fertility.” Important words here that are glossed over are “uncomplicated” and “first trimester.” The last myth states: “ Fetuses experience pain during abortions.” The author states: “ Fetuses cannot feel pain until at least the 24th week of pregnancy.” This statement is controversial in itself, but, a glossed fact here is that not only can the fetus feel pain at 24 weeks, but also, most states simply do not allow abortions after that time because the fetus is viable outside of the womb. The author, in several places, decries the “lies” of the pro-life movement, but omission of facts, and miss-statements of other people’s beliefs are also lies. While there is a bibliographical list of all sources used, every single one of them is pro-choice. I cannot conscientiously recommend this book for young readers. I do think that adult pro-life advocates should read it for it is necessary to totally understand the position of the people on the pro-abortion side in order to be able to refute their arguments.
The authors have provided the middle school to high school reader with a fascinating book of various experiments in all fields of learning – including Language Arts and Social Studies. Usually, books of experiments are limited to mathematics and/or science.
Each chapter begins with a topic to pique the interest of the reader. The “Content Area” and “Primary Skills’ being taught by the experiment, along with the “Mission Objective” begin each chapter. These sections are followed by “Learning the Lingo” in which the reader learns the terms pertinent to the topic at hand. Next comes the list of materials needed to perform the experiment, followed by the “Plan of Attack,” or the steps in the experiment. Finally each chapter ends with “Take it to the Max,” an attempt to get the reader to go beyond the given experiment and to discover more about the subject on his/her own.
This book is for younger readers, but it may well be used by a teacher or a homeschooling parent for extra activities. I recommend its purchase, but a librarian may have trouble cataloging it because of its broad range of subjects.