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"First they came for the Communist - so I said nothing. Then they  came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat - so I said nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew - so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me." - Martin Niemoeller, Protestant Pastor, Nazi Victim (p. 56)

This book barely scratches the surface of genocide plaguing society, and countries like the US's proverbial blinders when they have nothing to gain from stopping it.
It takes a very basic look at genocides that have been performed throughout history leading into present day. First, it sets the context by defining "genocide" - stemming from Lemkin's (1946) combination of genos meaning "race" and cide meaning "to kill" - and walking the reader through criteria used to classify mass killings. In addition, using the genocide of the Jews during WWII as a reference point, the book goes on to compare and contrast current day genocides in Darfur, Rwanda, Uganda, and many more. It goes on to chronicle the warning signs of developing genocides as well as the UN's responsibility to intervene - even though it almost never does until it's too late.

This brief book gives a quick and dirty look at genocide throughout the world and multiple countries' refusal to stop it. The most sickening part of the entire book is the
realization that the US is almost always "inadvertently" involved in the killings. Why? Because the people under attack have minerals, or some other resource, that the US wants. In addition, in the case of poor countries  experiencing genocide, the US uses its influential power to convince other countries not to provide aid until it's too late. Springer provides documented proof over and over again to show the twisted version of humanity that the US
government practices.

Although this book effectively builds its argument by creating a strong foundation of evidence and logic, it is very repetitive and dense in places. Also, the information reads like a timeline, and doesn't go as much in depth as a reader might hope. However, this book gives readers a
starting point and references if they wish to research its claims for themselves.

This would be an excellent resource for teachers to use while teaching a Holocaust unit because it connects the past to the present. In addition, it addresses the impact of propaganda and media control on genocide, which is a growing concern among the public at large - who owns the information, and how do we know it's accurate? The chapters are written in such a way that they could be standalone if a teacher didn't want to, or have the time to, read the entire book as a class.

This book was published in 2006, which means that it's
already out of date, and more genocides have already occurred.


 
 
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Award winning author Russell Freedman weaves a mesmerizing tale of two men who seemed unlikely friends, and how their mutual drive for the abolition of slavery brought them together. With  painstaking detail and historical photographs, the reader sees famous, historical characters from the Civil War era come to life on the page.


The book begins with Douglass waiting in the White House foyer to speak with President Lincoln. As he waits to "lay the complaints of his people at the president's door," the story flashes back between the two men's lives to show their rise to power. Although one man was Black and another man was White, they shared striking commonalities in their acquisition of an education as well as political ideals. Although they didn't always agree, and Douglass could be one of Lincoln's greatest critics, their last moments together were as friends who shared a mutual respect.


I loved this book, which is saying a lot since I despise reading nonfiction. Ever since I was a child, I shied away from autobiographies and biographies because they were disconnected, dry, and dull. I could, honestly, care less what someone did 100 years ago. However, I couldn't
put this book down. I read it in an hour, and I immediately showed it to my eight-year-old daughter and told her that she needs to read it because it does such a great job of humanizing the events of the Civil War and the people who were affected.

The book ends with Lincoln's assassination, and his final gift to Douglass. I have to admit that there were moments in this text that moved me to tears because of the struggles that people have faced and the hope that these two men instilled. They were, and are, two great examples for honoring each other as humans, first and foremost. 

Ages: 9-12 years
Available
June 19, 2012

 
 
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Michael Riordon travels through occupied Palestine, recording the untold stories of Palestinian persecution and cruelty at the hands of the Israeli government. In an effort to right the wrongs of a corrupt government determined to eliminate Palestinians from Israeli soil, peace activists from both camps use the system to fight injustices Arabs face each and every day. Through vignettes, Riordon uses the 1948 War of Independence as the historical backdrop for Israel reclaiming its Holy Land and seeking to evict Palestinians from their land, dignity, and will to live. Painting them as terrorists, Israel has convince the world to look the other way while it continues its ethnic cleansing.

This nonfiction is phenomenal. I never really understood all of the circumstances surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and I'm ashamed to say that I accepted the media's version of events. What Riordon's books shows, however, is the danger of accepting false truths and propoganda, and the power that people have if they will simply stand up and say, "No more."

Riordon says that he wrote this book to tell the rest of the story, to move people to action. the following quote encompasses the basic premise of enlightenment:

"The trouble is that once you see it, you can't unsee it. And once you've seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you're accountable" (Arundhati Roy, p. 4).

Humans have a responsibility to one another, and no one is exempt.

 
 
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"After being stripped of everything, all these kids had left was pride - a pride that was distorted, maimed, twisted, and turned against them, a defiant pride that did not allow them to admit that they were human beings and had been hurt." - Baca, p. 21

It has taken me a while to write this review because the information in this memoir is so raw and disturbing that I had to remove myself from it in order to wrap my mind around what I thought. To be honest, I still don't know how to express in words how this book affected me. I'd heard of Jimmy Santiago Baca; I even used some of his poetry in my classes to engage relunctant readers by explaining that he was illiterate until he was 22 years old, taught himself how to read and write in prison, and look at him now! Wow, was I grossly superficial about this man.

Jimmay Santiago Baca is lucky to be alive. This memoir tells a sad tale of a little boy abandoned by both parents when he was five. The circumstances behind this abandonment would haunt him throughout his entire life.

His parents were poor hispanic teenagers who found themselves married and parents by time they were 16. During the next few years, they were plagued with alcoholism and domestic abuse. As a result, Jimmy's father went from job-to-job, drinking his paychecks away while his mother, who could pass for white, found a "reliable" white man, Richard, to take her in. The only condition was that she couldn't bring her "too Hispanic looking" children into the agreement. As a result, she readily dropped her children off with their grandparents and walked away without a backward glance. Heartbroken, Jimmy's father spent his time searching for his wife, and dulling the pain with alcohol until the day he died.

Jimmy admits that he was no angel. Throughout the memoir, he accepts responsibility for his actions with stark honesty that is rarely offered. He tells of the night that the FBI raided the house during a narc drug deal, the brutal tactics that law officials used to obtain "confessions," the corruption of the FBI and judicial system, and the psychological and physical rape of mens' minds, bodies, and souls in prison.

This is not an easy read, and I would suggest it be limited to mature readers. I don't say this because of the content. I say this because this book needs to be taken seriously, and I don't think someone who is immature can fully grasp its implications.

I love this book. There were times that it became too emotional to read, but I think that that's a good thing. Jimmy Santiago Baca shows society that, despite the scars, he survived.

 
 
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"I'm fighting, man, 'cause I'm trying to stay as close to human as I can. I don't want to become a monster." - Roy, p. 33.

This book compiles interviews with men who were sentenced to Death Row as young at fourteen. Most of the inmates accept responsibility for their actions, but they want people to know that they aren't the same people they were when they committed the murders.

Research has shown that teens do not develop the right temporal lobe (the part of the brain that recognizes consequences to certain actions) until their twenties; therefore, to sentence a teen to Death Row with no hope of rehabilitation is called into question. Should a person be defined by one act?

For those who think that prison is a resort where prisoners get to eat and sleep on the taxpayer's dime, they need to read these interviews because the picture is grim, at best. These inmates fight for their lives everyday. Everyday they face violence, murder, gang rapes, and humiliation. The sad part? No one cares.

If we continue to practice "an eye for an eye," don't we just end up with a lot of blind people?
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