This was a well organized textbook that was not difficult to read. Sometimes, the text would go from painfully obvious generalization in one paragraph...moreThis was a well organized textbook that was not difficult to read. Sometimes, the text would go from painfully obvious generalization in one paragraph to minute frivolous detail in the next. This was often frustrating, as the tests and learning objectives in the class for which I read this book tended to be more specific than the former an more general than the latter. I suppose this could be a review for the class overall, given the extensive overlap between the learning objectives for the class and the questions given at the beginning of each chapter and subject. Textbook conventions were used well. If there was a new word or concept, it was bold and the definition followed. Further, the most important concepts were always the first sentence in the section. This made the text easy to skim or quickly glean answers to learning objectives.
Unfortunately I am very unlikely to ever thumb through this book again, as it is on looseleaf paper in a binder, with no bound version offered at my campus bookstore. This is disgraceful. I would have happily traded in the full color photos for a binding and hardcover. The book was still outrageously expensive, AND IT WASN'T EVEN BOUND!(less)
After some mixed reactions (mostly during book one) I can officially say that by the end of the sixth volume I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim series. I fou...moreAfter some mixed reactions (mostly during book one) I can officially say that by the end of the sixth volume I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim series. I found them to be charming and sweet and romantic. Surprisingly, I found them to very rarely be cheesy, an impresseive feat given the genre of literature: Teen Romance Manga??
At the same time, reading the books I understood that I am a little too old for them. Don't get me wrong, I devoured these books with gusto. But I can't help but feel that if I had come across them when I was 17 years old, they would have affected me on a much deeper level. I would have been fanatic about them, rather than amused and charmed by them.
At first glance, the Scott Pilgrim series seems vaguely fucked up. The premise, after all, is that the main character must fight and defeat the seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the love of his girlfriend Ramona. On the surface, this is some misogynist bullshit, only men in comic books (or, perhaps, rams) need to defeat other men in battle in order to woo their women, and this is a tired cliche. But perhaps a deeper reading is in order here.
It's true that the title of the book is Scott Pilgrim, and that the storyline most often follows Scott. However, Scott barely exists. From the moment she appears, Ramona is a three dimensional character with a past, a background, depth, hobbies, interests, a job, a place to live, friends, etc. Scott, on the other hand, is almost a cardboard cutout. We learn he is in a band. He doesn't really have a place to live (he's crashing at a friend's house (since...?), he has no apparent job (it's revealed later he doesn't have one), he has no direction, no past, and no real future. We don't know very much about him because he doesn't know very much about himself! Scott has only one dimension, and it takes Ramona to bring him any semblance of depth.
So perhaps the story is really about Ramona. She has demons that she needs to work out with regard to her past boyfriends. And she uses Scott to get to a place where she can love herself and, eventually, when he develops into a human being for her and for us, she can love him as well. Read like this, the book is not nearly so misogynist. It's almost refreshing!
Anyhow, perhaps I'm just trying to justify why I would totally recommend this book to anyone with a couple of hours to burn (it goes really quickly). I can't necessarily tell you why you should read it (I never quite figured out why I was reading it myself), but I can tell you that it's fun.(less)
Lies My Teacher Told Me takes several chapters to delve into fascinating historical subjects, focusing especially on the neglected narratives of two p...moreLies My Teacher Told Me takes several chapters to delve into fascinating historical subjects, focusing especially on the neglected narratives of two particular groups: African Americans and Native Americans. I thoroughly enjoyed the debunking of the reconstruction corruption myth, and the attention paid (and due) to John Brown. The book challenged me to wonder what an American History would look like if it didn't favor white history over all others, and took an honest assessment of the contributions of Native Americans, as well as African slaves, to the creation of what we now know as the United States. The book also introduced me to a couple of concepts that had eluded me, but are awe inspiring.
Tri-Racial Isolates, for example, were the bands of escaped African slaves and poor whites who joined up with the nearly plague-obliterated Native Americans to resist the expansion of the imperial project of the United States, and played a major role however other-ized they were by the dominant narrative of frontier savages. These people were at times called Seminoles, Cimarrons, Maroons, and other names.
The Requirement was a document read, in Spanish, to populations of Native Americans as they were met by the Spaniards that exposes the utter self-conscious brutality of the conquest of the Americas: "But, if you do not [...convert to Christianity immediately...:], and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can [...:] we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them [...:] we shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord."
But I think the most useful parts of the book weren't the pop history re-telling of the stories, which after all can be found in many other forms elsewhere, but the study of how we are affected by this loss of history, and glimpses of what our history would be if we took the positions of those other than the Europeans when composing our nations' history. I am struck by the Vietnam exercise that the author did with his undergraduate class, where because of their socialization and their relative allegiance to the upper classes, they believed that the more poorly educated were hawks, when in fact the opposite was true. The use of education as building allegiance and socializing youth is an important concept to take away from this book.
The book also took careful assessment of the day-to-day resistance of students to learning caustic and false material. As the author states, "we must salute young people for more than mere ignorance. This is resistance raised to a high level." Students rarely do the work required of them, preferring instead to do the bare minimum, slowing the pace of the class with work slow-downs and evasion techniques. By literally refusing to learn even the most basic facts put forth in the toxic classes of US History, students all over the US have opposed the whitewashing of their own history, whether they knew they were doing it or not. Day-to-day resistance doesn't threaten the system, but it does grind the system to a crawl.
The book told how high school students today loathe history as dead facts and drop it from their curriculum as soon as they get the chance, never to pick it up again. I can remember my senior year of high school being totally delighted by the new-found ability to drop history in favor of yet another lab science class. This is pretty ironic, given that as soon as I realized what an amazing source of inspiration and strength history was, I was constantly reading history books, and taking college-level classes. In contrast to the book's author's recommendations, however, it took being involved in struggle against first the Iraq War, and then against capitalism and the state, in order for me to get interested in history. After months of worrying that no one had ever attempted to uproot the vicious system we are living in today like I was attempting, I happened upon the book A People's History of the United States, and it provided and still provides no end of comfort and courage.
When my parents recommended this book to me, they told me that it helped them understand my perspective on the world and specifically of US History. That is a pretty resounding endorsement, given that whereas my mother has always been pretty open to learning things about US History that detracted from the dominant narrative fairy-tale, my father's position has ossified (as wealthier older men's politics tend to do) around liberal democrat dogma and the realm of the "politically possible." That he took the time and chance, when one day I left it at their house, to burn the audio CDs and then transfer it to my ipod, and then insist I listen to it, is a testament to the book's ability to reach even skeptical audiences.
I read a good deal of this book for PY203 Human Growth and Development at Montgomery College, as a prerequisite for Nursing school.
The content of the...moreI read a good deal of this book for PY203 Human Growth and Development at Montgomery College, as a prerequisite for Nursing school.
The content of the book is geniunely interesting because it involves all of us. It is how we live and why we are the way we are at various chronological and developmental times. The content contained a ridiculous amount of in-paragraph sources, plenty of relevant anecdotes to ensure you could relate to the text, and well organized information.
The edition of the book that I had, however, was an enormous paperback book. 9 inches wide. 11 inches tall. An inch and a half thick, and perhaps 5 pounds. And not just five pounds of book, but five pounds of squirmy, bendy, annoying book. The book would wriggle its way into a roll at the bottom of my bookbag, making it uncomfortable to walk with. Also, because it was floppy and unsturdy, I had to have 18+ inches of space wherever I wanted to read it. Forget reading it while walking or on the crowded Metro on the way to class. For that matter, it was difficult to read on my desk. Why on earth would you make this a softcover book? It wasn't even cheap, but it sure did feel cheap.(less)
A sun dance is a ritual that includes (among other things I'm sure) self-mutilation. Spiritual awakening occurs at a sun dance when prayer and pain ne...moreA sun dance is a ritual that includes (among other things I'm sure) self-mutilation. Spiritual awakening occurs at a sun dance when prayer and pain negate the self in service to a higher power, the Great Mystery. The metaphor is poignant. Leonard Peltier is a spiritual warrior for his people, and the massive repression that he and the American Indian Movement have suffered have caused him enormous suffering. But suffering is something he has been prepared to shoulder through these sacred sun dances.
Even though Leonard Peltier is not a superlative writer, I appreciate reading his words as he no doubt very carefully wrote them. You can read the anger at the treatment of Leonard Peltier's people in every word of this book. You can sense his sense of injustice, but on top of all of that you can sense his determination to keep alive, as he insists his people have done, in the face of massive amounts of oppression.
The historical memoir of Leonard Peltier's time in the American Indian Movement was my favorite part of the book. Peltier was a hunted fugitive since he was teenager, with arbitrary legal troubles hounding him since he was old enough to go to jail, just like all Native youth. Leonard Peltier had no choice but to rebel, or die forgotten and let his people die forgotten as well. And rebel he did, as a part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs occupation, as part of fishing rights protests, and as part of the spiritual protection he was attempting at Oglala when a FBI agents and paramilitary rightwing GOON (funded by the US government) shot wildly into the area, starting the infamous "Incident at Oglala."
One of the images that will stay with me, though, is a much more personal one: the sweat lodge set up by Peltier and other native prisoners in the corner of the recreation area of the prison, the source of their religion and of the spiritual strength that keeps them alive and strong for their people. It's a breathtaking description.
The book design is strange. The book is much taller than it is wide, making for a narrow page area. And the type is very large, with perhaps 100% leading between the lines. It makes the book a quick read, and very legible, but its awkward shape bothered me throughout.