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Book Review: The Shame Of The Nation

2158 words - 9 pages

I. Analysis of the mechanics of the book.
If anyone in the United States were asked, "What is the best part about living in this country?," most people would answer "equality". The United States is built on and known for the equality among its citizens and is often referred to as the 'melting pot'. After reading Jonathan Kozol's, The Shame of the Nation, equality is nonexistent within the schools he has gone to, and has been employed through. With his travels, expert testimony and personal stories gathered from the people within the community and schools, he shows the exact opposite of equality. Minority schools being his main focus, he discusses the inequalities these students endure and ...view middle of the document...

He is able to make it flow making it easier for any reader to get through. The only supplementary aide used in the book isn't shown until the appendix, which is charts of different school districts' school funding. This placement is beneficial to the book, because if it were placed anywhere else in the beginning it would of taken away from the stories and information featured up until the appendix. It provides useful statistical information for the reader after learning about these school areas on a personal level, and making them separate makes it more concise. Following this part of the appendix is A Note To Teachers, Updates and Acknowledgements, notes and an index. A Note to Teachers is effective by bringing everything spoken about in the previous chapters together, while providing some tips for teachers to go by. Updates and Acknowledgments gives the reader more of an understanding of who Jonathan Kozol has worked with and was taught by, making it clear he isn't claiming to of done this all by himself. As for the notes and index, they are always essential to any book.
II. Analysis of the content of the book.
Overall, Jonathan Kozol achieved his goal of being a powerful and effective voice for the minority schools he features within the book, and essentially speaks for any school suffering as a minority school in the United States. The reader is fully aware of the conditions and treatment these schools undergo, and that is Kozol's primary concern for his writing. The only aspect that takes away from his successfulness, is the fact that he does not provide any concrete ways of solving the problem discussed in the book. This is a big aspect that he is missing. He does a great job of stating the problem and backing it up with evidence, experience and personal stories, but without a concrete solution how can this information really be used? Granted, he does not claim to have a solution to the problems and conditions he discusses, it just would of made his writing more effective and useful if he had ways of solving the issue at hand.
"In writing this book, I have visited approximately 60 schools in 30 districts, situated in 11 different states. Most of these visits took place in the years from 2000 to 2005, although several of the narratives, as will be noted in the text, go back considerably earlier (Kozol, 2005, To The Reader)." Along with this scope there are some brief updates on some of the information previously discussed within the book. The book could have benefitted more by having a broader scope, just to provide more compare and contrast over wider ranges of years. Also, it would of given him more time to visit more schools giving him more experience and knowledge to draw from. As for the updates, they should of been left out because it doesn't provide much information to the reader and doesn't update on every person or place discussed or featured in the book.
When it comes to reliability on a scholarly level, Jonathan Kozol's...

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