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The Blackboard Jungle

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  364 ratings  ·  23 reviews
This "nightmarish but authentic" ("Time") portrait of a high school English teacher and the defiant, uncontrollable students in his charge rings with ferocious urgency and harrowing realism. A timeless rendering of youth culture set against the backdrop of 1950s New York City, "The Blackboard Jungle" speaks powerfully to the alarming epidemic of violence and security issue ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Pocket (first published August 1954)
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Rose
Dec 29, 2009 Rose added it
Shelves: 2009, fiction
My favourite part of this book was the speech the protagonist, English teacher Rick Dadier, makes to his class of teenagers:

“Tell me, West, do you know what a dream session is? You ever been inside a shooting gallery, West? You know what mootah is, West? You dig a monkey scratching at your back, West? You know what a twist is? You ever flop into some cat’s pad, West? You know what screech trumpet is? Are you hip or from nowhere?...West, do you know what H is? Or C? Or M? Do you know what a fix m
...more
Bill
Pretty good novel about teaching in a tough (and I do mean tough) vocational school in NY. Not a job I would want, I can tell you. Made into a movie in 1955. Evan Hunter was an extremely prolific writer who had many pseudonyms, the most famous being Ed McBain who wrote the 87th Precinct novels.
Corey
My wife is proud of me. I never quit books and she keeps saying to me, "Life is too short for bad books." This isn't a bad book...it's just dull and Hunter hadn't developed his sharp prose style yet, so I gave it 100 pages and decided I didn't want to continue.
Daniel
The Blackboard Jungle Review

For my outside reading assignment, I chose to read the book The Blackboard Jungle by Evan Hunter. This book is a work of fiction and I chose it because it looked interesting and it gave a glimpse of what high schools were like in the 1950’s. Even though this book is a work of fiction, it gives a real portrayal of the chaos in a rough 50’s high school. The basic plot follows the challenges faced by North Manual Trades High School English teacher Richard Dadier as he t
...more
Taryn
Sep 27, 2008 Taryn rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Taryn by: my dad
Having just spent two years teaching at a tech/vocational high school, I found this book interesting, but not particularly enjoyable. The author did a good job of depicting how helpless and inept a teacher can feel at times... especially when their students are completely uninterested in learning. I could really relate to a lot of that. The book was written in the 50s, and it was disheartening to see that a lot of the educational system's "issues" haven't changed in the last 58 years. Also, beca ...more
Shaytho
The prose grabbed me from the start. The account of a tough school is covered from all angles: students, teachers, principal, home life of the central character Rick Dadier, a man learning about teaching. Add in a mystery: (Who is pestering Dadier's wife?), and a climax: (The classroom knife fight); and you have a book which satisfies on many levels. But the prose remains - the description of snow falling at the start of Chapter 6 reflects the writing skills of a great author.
wally
21 dec 14, sunday afternoon
there was this once...a friend here asked if i'd like a bunch of books...john d macdonald...i said sure no problem. we exchanged addresses...give me time i'll send him some homemade jam and maybe a book or two. this paperback was included in the box. i've read stories from ed mcbain...maybe i heard or read that he also published under another name...or names... so i'm reading this one now.

the blackboard jungle: a novel of juvenile delinquents
1954

has this dedication: t
...more
Holly
Who knew that in our perfect little 1950's society, teachers were already confronting mouthy, lazy students and protecting themselves from assault and rape in the classroom.
Ana
Este livro foi mais uma excelente surpresa que o Linked Books me proporcionou, pois duvido que sem "as ligações" eu viesse a ler este título por minha iniciativa.

Como disse atrás, não sabia o que esperar do livro, não tinha sinopse, e apenas pelo seu título, apesar de bastante sugestivo, não poderia saber do que se tratava. Quando iniciei a leitura, e apesar do interesse ter sido instantâneo, por momentos fiquei um pouco desiludida, quando entendi do que iria tratar o livro. Percebi que o livro
...more
Kimberly Guzzi
This book was hard to read at times but not so bad that I could abandon it. Wrote in the 50s it was really sexist and almost described pregnancy as a humiliating disability. It seemed unbelievable at times. The teachers portrayed for the most part do not care about their students. Some are racist, some are discouraged and some have no clue.
Les
Evan Hunter's (who also wrote as Ed McBain) novel on teaching in a New York City vocational school is based on his short teaching experience. Through Richard Dadier, a first year teacher, it shows the power struggle between students and teachers, the difficulty a teacher has in reaching students, the ways many teachers who've given up cope. All this magnified by his teaching in a vocational school which were supposed to teach a trade to those students who were not academically inclined. What the ...more
Lauren
An excellent book that really brings you into the difficulties of teaching "problem students" while offering a good look at life. Could have done without the 1950's garbage concerning attitudes towards rape and women in general, however.
Noah
This is NOT one of those teacher-prevails-against-all-odds, inspirational-type novels. I think that's important to get out of the way immediately. It is the story of a very difficult teaching situation in a vocational high school in NYC. It was written in 1954 and it is 100% a novel "of its time." In regards to gender roles, attitudes about women, and views of discipline, it is very much (at times laughably so) a story of 1950's American culture. An entertaining read and an easy read, though not ...more
Naomi
Literally old school.
Ken
It's easy to understand how and why this novel struck like a thunderclap in the mid-50s. And it is a sturdily-written book about a Bronx school teacher trying to get through to his hardened, often violent vocational high-school students. However, 60 or so years later, it's just as understandable that its impact has lessened. Still, it should be read by teachers today, especially ones toiling away in urban schools who believe that unruly students are a recent phenomenon.
Dale White
Hunter's own failed experience as a public school teacher led to his writing "The Blackboard Jungle," surely the most successful and lasting of all his novels. Hunter's prolific and diverse career included the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and, writing as Ed McBain, the 87th Precinct mystery series. If you would like to read more about him, I conducted an interview with him many years ago that is now available on Amazon Kindle.
Driekie
It was a very nice book. The writing was done in an easily followable manner.

This is the story of a new teacher starting in a public school in America. Not the type of book that I usually read, expectin it to be very boring and all the old types of actions one get in such a story, but the story was very interesting and well told, the characters were believable
Chris Gager
I read this long ago but I remember it pretty well. The guys said "frigging" not "stinking" as they did in the movie. In real life they would say "fucking" of course. Pretty good movie though and an early role for both Vic Morrow and Sidney Poitier. Date read is a guess.
Dave
I have 3 different editions of this.The paperback a 5th print and the 1st print found in that order. This book is a keeper
Ayny
too much information on the day to day minutiae. couldn't finish.
Stacey
May 09, 2007 Stacey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Still holds up, decades after its release. Excellent.
Jan
the book got better the further I got into it
Daniel
Was very dated. I skipped some of it.
Max
Max marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2015
Lori Barnes
Lori Barnes marked it as to-read
Apr 10, 2015
Ray Jordan
Ray Jordan marked it as to-read
Apr 05, 2015
Maureen
Maureen marked it as to-read
Apr 02, 2015
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96380
Better known by his pseudonym Ed McBain.

Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, he legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952. While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956.
More about Evan Hunter...
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“Do you condemn the kids for not having been blessed with I.Q.s of 120? Can you condemn the kids? Can you condemn anyone? Can you condemn the colleges that give all you need to pass a board of education examination? Do you condemn the board of education for not making the exams stiffer, for not boosting the requirements, for not raising salaries, for not trying to attract better teachers, for not making sure their teachers are better equipped to teach?
Or do you condemn the meatheads all over the world who drift into the teaching profession drift into it because it offers a certain amount of paycheck every month security ,vacation-every summer luxury, or a certain amount of power , or a certain easy road when the other more difficult roads are full of ruts?
Oh he’d seen the meatheads, all right; he’d seen them in every education class he’d ever attended. The simpering female idiots who smiled and agreed with the instructor, who imparted vast knowledge gleaned from profound observations made while sitting at the back of the classroom in some ideal high school in some ideal neighborhood while an ideal teacher taught ideal students.
Or the men who were perhaps the worst, the men who sometimes seemed a little embarrassed, over having chosen the easy road, the road the security, the men who sometimes made a joke about the women not realizing they themselves were poured from the same streaming cauldron of horse manure. Had Rick been one of these men? He did not believe so….
He had wanted to teach, had honestly wanted to teach. He had not considered the security or the two-month vacation, or the short tours. He had simply wanted to teach, and he had considred taeaching a worth-while profession. He had, in fact, considered it the worthiest profession. He had held no illusions about his own capabilities. He could not paint, or write, or compose, or sculpt, or philopshize deeply, or design tall buildings. He could contribute nothing to the world creatively and this had been a disappointment to him until he’d realized he could be a big creator by teaching. For here were minds to be sculptured, here were ideas to be painted, here were lives to shape. To spend his allotted time on earth as a bank teller or an insurance salesman would have seemed an utter waste to Rick. Women, he had reflected had no such problem. Creation had been given to them as a gift and a woman was self-sufficient within her own creative shell. A man needed more which perhaps was one reason why a woman could never understand a man’s concern for the job he had to do.”
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“They taught him how to milk cows and now they expected him to tame lions. Perhaps they expected him to behave like all good lion tamers. Use a whip and a chair. But what happens to the best lion tamer when he puts down his whip and his chair.
Goddamnit! It was wrong. He felt cheated, he felt almost violated. He felt cheated for himself, and he felt cheated for guys like Joshua Edwards who wanted to teach and who didn’t know how to teach because he’d been pumped full of manure and theoretical hogwash. Why hadn’t anyone told them, in plain, frank English, just what to do? Couldn’t someone, somewhere along the line, have told them? Not one single college instructor? Not someone from the board of Ed, someone to orientate them after they’d passed the emergency exam? Not anyone? Now one sonofabitch somewhere who gave a good goddamn? Not even Stanley? Not even Small? Did they have to figure it out for themselves, sink and swim, kill or be killed?
Rick had never been told how to stop in his class. He’d never been told what to do with a second term student who doesn’t even know how to write down his own goddamn name on a sheet of paper. He didn’t know, he’d never been advised on the proper tactics for dealing with a boy whose I.Q. was 66, a big, fat, round, moronic 66. He hadn’t been taught about kids’ yelling out in class, not one kid, not the occasional “difficult child” the ed courses had loftily philosophized about, not him. But a whole goddamn, shouting, screaming class load of them all yelling their sonofbitching heads off. What do you do with a kid who can’t read even though he’s fifteen years old? Recommend him for special reading classes, sure. And what do you do when those special reading classes are loaded to the asshole, packed because there are kids who can’t read in abundance, and you have to take only those who can’t read the worst, dumping them onto a teacher who’s already overloaded and those who doesn’t want to teach a remedial class to begin with?
And what do you with that poor ignorant jerk? Do you call him on class, knowing damn well he hasn’t read the assignment because he doesn’t know how to read? Or do you ignore him? Or do you ask him to stop by after school, knowing he would prefer playing stickball to learning how to read.
And knowing he considers himself liberated the moment the bell sounds at the end of the eighth period.
What do you do when you’ve explained something patiently and fully, explained it just the way you were taught to explain in your education courses, explained in minute detail, and you look out at your class and see that stretching, vacant wall of blank, blank faces and you know nothing has penetrated, not a goddamn thing has sunk in? What do you do then?
Give them all board erasers to clean.
What do you do when you call on a kid and ask “What did that last passage mean?”and the kid stands there without any idea of what the passage meant , and you know that he’s not alone, you know every other kid in the class hasn’t the faintest idea either? What the hell do you do then? Do you go home and browse through the philosophy of education books the G.I bill generously provided. Do you scratch your ugly head and seek enlightenment from the educational psychology texts? Do you consult Dewey?
And who the hell do you condemn, just who?
Do you condemn elementary schools for sending a kid on to high school without knowing how to read, without knowing how to write his own name on a piece of paper? Do you condemn the masterminds who plot the education systems of a nation, or a state or a city?”
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