Paul Tough boils down some really complex issues in social science enough for a general reader to understand them, but not so much that he condescends...morePaul Tough boils down some really complex issues in social science enough for a general reader to understand them, but not so much that he condescends to his readers. By writing about one man and one organization (Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children's Zone), Tough is able to draw the reader into more historical and theoretical discussions about race, poverty, and education. This format reminded me of Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, and I would highly recommend Whatever It Takes for those who enjoyed Kidder's book. I would also recommend this book to anyone interested in education policy because I want to talk to someone about it!
Oh, and Tough's mentors in journalism are Ira Glass and Michael Pollan-- not too shabby.(less)
This book was all over the place: part memoir, part history, part political manifesto, and several examples that were too long to be anecdotes but too...moreThis book was all over the place: part memoir, part history, part political manifesto, and several examples that were too long to be anecdotes but too short to be case studies. Although the current discourse on food politics badly needs more perspectives on race and class issues, Winne makes a better activist than messenger.(less)
Jerry Dennis is simply a great story-teller, and he weaves together history, ecology, and memoir into a great yarn. He clearly loves the Great Lakes a...moreJerry Dennis is simply a great story-teller, and he weaves together history, ecology, and memoir into a great yarn. He clearly loves the Great Lakes as much as I love Michigan, and is on a mission to impress the reader with their rich histories, power, and environmental fragility. I also appreciated that his adventure writing was not bogged down by machismo. I would've liked more detail about historical and contemporary Native American groups and their interactions with the Lakes. In his re-telling of the adventures of the Voyageurs, Dennis falls into the common trap of conflating "wilderness" with lands unaltered by Europeans.
The sections on the environmental histories of the Great Lakes are worth reading on their own as both cautional and inspirational tales.
I think the clear-cutting of the North Woods and the ensuing fires that took thousands of lives ought to be remembered as a human-provoked environmental disaster on par with the Dust Bowl. The beautiful land of Northern Michigan that we know today must have been a truly terrifying place 130 years ago, when forest fires would sweep across the state from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, burning everything and everyone in their wake.
The near-collapse and tenious resurgence of the Great Lakes fisheries in this century is another fascinating story that shows that the Lakes have been through hard times before. Fifty years ago, I could not have ordered a Lake Michigan whitefish dinner at my favorite restaurant Up North (today I'd be wise to limit my consumption because of the accumulation of pollutants in the fish, but that's another story). Scientists have made some stunning progress in halting the insurgant attack of invasive species and helping fisheries recover in the past decades, but they still do not fully understand the complex ecosystems of the Lakes.
Although there are no pandas in the North Woods and no whales in the Great Lakes, I think their histories are rich enough with natural and human drama to capture a child's (or adult's) sense of wonder. Environmental educators should start by teaching about the environment that is familiar to their students, and the Great Lakes provide no shortage of interesting material.
How did I graduate with an American History degree from a university in Michigan without ever reading this book? Or know more about the Little family'...moreHow did I graduate with an American History degree from a university in Michigan without ever reading this book? Or know more about the Little family's history not only in Detroit, but also Lansing, East Lansing, and Mason?
The writing and the story drew me in and grabbed me like a great novel, even as I'm still digesting and reflecting on the book's politics. (less)
I am a little obsessed with this collection of essays about cooking and eating alone, because even the title of the book gave me a jolt of recognition...moreI am a little obsessed with this collection of essays about cooking and eating alone, because even the title of the book gave me a jolt of recognition. A few of the pieces captured the mixed joys and lonliness of living alone as well as anything I've read. The authors writing about Ann Arbor also did a great job capturing that city's food culture. The editor's arrangement of the essays makes for a very satisfying cover-to-cover read.(less)