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Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  4,650 Ratings  ·  349 Reviews
Amazing Grace is an audiobook about about the hearts of children who grow up in the South Bronx—the poorest congressional district of our nation.

The children we meet through the deepening friendships that evolve between Jonathan Kozol and their families defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented on TV and in newspapers. Tender, generous, and often religio
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published February 19th 2010 by Brilliance Audio (first published 1995)
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Jan 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Lindsay by: required reading
While the content of the book is very heart wrenching, and the statistics and the accounts Kozol provides are all very real, I hated this book. What troubles me is not the book, but its author Jonathan Kozol. Kozol motives are sincere and genuine but it always takes a sympathetic white man to expose the world. Which is almost unnerving as it is sad. On a whole, most of the white community in New York City doesn’t ever see what is happening around them; a train ride away. It’s as if the horrors o ...more
Edwin Cruz
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was moved by the stories told by the old & young in this community. I truly admire Anthony's (a 13 year old) wisdom and ambition as an aspiring writer. The centrality of the church in providing hope and relief for people in this community reminded me of my own childhood. Despite one's religious beliefs we must never devalue the relationships that people have to spiritual places and the sense of belonging and community that is achieved through these relationships. I respect Kozol for being ...more
Aug 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The crucial realities of a neighborhood’s life districted in South Bronx, New York City were told by Jonathan Kozol. Through his novel, Amazing Grace, he provided the true side and enables the wealthy privileged classes to witness the harsh conditions the poor had gone through. Because of this inequality issue which has been getting worse, readers are able to put their shoes in the lives of the poor. Such injustice drove to the huge gap between the rich and poor. More importantly, all these unfa ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: My sister
New York City slums from the perspective of the kids that live there. The author's sincere attempt to describe life for a select group of kids by compiliting the results of numerous interviews. I knew there was extreme poverty in parts of New York City (and crime, drugs, higher rates of AIDS, gangs), but I had no idea that the "public services" (schools, hospitals, parks, and city services) were so, so bad....dirty hospital rooms that patients have to clean themselves, classrooms meeting in bath ...more
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In 1996 this book changed my life. Because of this book my 16th year became a mission to better the lives of the students of Taft High School (a school that is discussed in the book). I visited the school, the churches and neighborhoods talked about in the book. I established an exchange program between American Fork High and Taft High School that still is in existence today. I highly recommend Jonothon Kozol's Amazing Grace.

This book taught me at a young age that I could change the world.
Aug 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Chrissie by: Ellie
Shelves: history, religion, usa, audible
This book should be read by all. We who are well off can scarcely understand how poor the poor really are. This book brings awareness. The book is difficult to read, given the dire situation described, but is written in such a manner that even humor is thrown in. The book lacks structure; that is why I reduced the stars.

And religion? One clearly sees why sometimes people need it.

Absolutely perfect narration by Dick Hill.

You should read this book.
Emmy MacMannis
This was an extremely eye opening read, which taught me all about life for children and adults in the South Bronx. I would never have imagined all of the terrible things people live through in those neighborhoods. Hearing the stories was moving!
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: favorites
I had to read this for a night class where we were to finish it within the span of a week. Being busy with other things, I had two days to start and finish it. I'm literally exhausted from it. This book is powerful, emotional, depressing, macabre and at times even joyful and uplifting. The children that Kozol speaks with are remarkably brilliant and eloquent in their thoughts. Some of them have reached a maturity in their thinking that I don't see in most adults I know. The women and few men tha ...more
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I use this text while teaching freshman English as a companion to Huxley's Brave New World. It enlightens the all too appropriate comparison and starts a discussion of what America's landscape is really like and how it is crafted, and by whom.
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Difficult. Diligent. Brilliant.
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It surreally opened my eyes to see that such stuff can happen in America in all places. It made me feel soiled and childish how I thought I was unhappy because of the situation I'm in.
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although Jonathan Kozol wrote and researched this book almost 20 years ago (when I was just a little girl), sadly, so much of it still rings true today. The primary focus of this book pertains to the lives of children within the South Bronx. Kozol particularly emphasizes the ways in which these young children process and understand the world in which they live, as well as their places within it. Whenever I'm reading, especially nonfiction texts, I often highlight quotations that I feel are signi ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. White person goes into ghetto and converses with the children there. This time we’re in the Bronx in the 90s.

I need to stop reading about poverty for a while. I have real trouble mustering up sympathy for people who keep having children they can’t afford. Abortion is legal! I know – it’s normal to want to leave a legacy, to find purpose in raising another human being. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t make it wrong.

Sadly, these kids don’t really stand a chance. They live in a crime-infes
Hong Deng
Through the words of many children, and parents, Amazing Grace reveals the painful lives of those who settled in South Bronx in the late 1990s. The neighborhoods in South Bronx were soared with impoverished families who constantly faced brutal violence and sickness. The stories of these people resonate with the unjust treatments and inequalities the poor received throughout the world. Giving countless touching examples of intelligent children and hardworking adults who resigned to the atrocities ...more
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was, hands down, one of the most depressing books I've ever read. Author Jonathan Kozol visits neighborhoods in the South Bronx, one of the poorest areas of the United States, and talks with many of the people who live there about their lives, and it is astonishing. Poverty, drugs, prostitution, gun violence, AIDS, rat infestations -- all make their home among crumbling infrastructure in neighborhoods where public safety and education are neglected by those in charge, sharing space with chi ...more
Ronald Wise
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a powerful personal study of life in the South Bronx based on the author's visits and repeated conversations with a few individuals living in America's poorest Congressional District. Most of the conversations are with religious personnel, grandmothers, and children. They all talk in their own ways of the daily impact of unprecedented levels of drug addiction, violence, and terminal illness on their lives, community, and city.

Kozol's visits and conversations occurred in the early 1990s w
Dec 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting because with Mr. Kozol, I figured it would mostly be about education. But that's about the only thing he doesn't really touch on much in this book. Mostly it's about a single neighborhood in the Bronx: Mott Haven. I found it telling that I lived in New York City for almost five years, in Queens, and I never even heard of this neighborhood.

Given the amount of crime in this neighborhood, you'd think it would be on the news every night, but given the co
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Tia by: Katie
Despite having just left the "front lines" of urban education and finding little in this book surprising, Amazing Grace is a powerful read.

The book begins with transcribed conversations from urban youth, parents, and community leaders in one of America's worst neighborhoods in the nineties. Slowly, Kozol begins to translate and offer insight into their words with statistics and comparisons he finds from his research. This insight all points to the racial segregation of New York City, which resi
Kate Padilla
While the writing was certainly solid and well-executed, I have to say I had a problem with the overall message Kozol was proposing. At the same time that he was accusing white people of segregating themselves from people of other colors (African American and Hispanics, namely), his examples completely segregated those same people of color from white people, simply on the basis of color.

In the same way, I found his argument a little one-sided. His book seems to place the situation of the South B
Bryon Butler
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Years ago, in the mid-1990s, I was in graduate school outside of New York City where the events of Amazing Grace are presented. I made some forays into the Bronx and Yonkers, seeing first hand the plight and injustice so well presented by Jonathan Kozol. As a seminarian, I visited some inner-city churches, most notably the Bronx Household of Faith ( and thought of the dedicated, long-suffering pastor who was trying to impact the area. These personal experiences inter-twined with Amazing ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book the summer before going to freshman year of college at HOly Cross and I fell in love with it.

Again, Kozol is one of my writing heroes...and his style is easy to read and full of details that really help you understand his point of view.

Here's what the publisher said about this book:

The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty abou
Jennifer Deegan
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Kozol weaves together the tragic and often inspiring stories of Mott Haven’s families and, along the way, builds a strong case against the all-too-common practice of isolating the poor in urban ghettos. As both the author and the subjects of this work eloquently articulate, segregation is bad for the poor and even more damaging to the nation’s spirit. The accounts in Amazing Grace highlight the desperate conditions in these impoverished areas, the inherent inequalities of segregation, and the re ...more
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-july-2010
Poverty, Have you ever wondered about what some children are going through in the world? Have you ever see those commercials like Feed a children? It's really depressing to see kids go through poverty and this is what this book is all about. Johnathan Kozol describes the life of families that are living in the southern bronx in Nyc and going through hardship.
This book is more like a documentry to me of families just getting interviewed about their life. The usual problems are Drugs, and money.
Jacob Campbell
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Poverty is an over arching social issue that affect people in many ways. Stress has often been associated with poverty. This relationship is explored through Kozol (1995) and his experiences with children in an impoverished neighborhood. The children he describes have bio-psycho-social risk & resilience factors in regards to stress and poverty. Stress and poverty can be put into an ecological perspective utilizing functionalist theory. Functionalist theory is limited in implementing a planed

Sep 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sophmore-summer
This book Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol is one of the greatest books that has received many awards. It was in the New York Times as a highly recommended book. It takes place in America's very own New York City, where people witnessed poverty and the rough times in life. He shows the side of life that people tend to avoid and it just explains to you all the hardships people go through to live a decent life. He also shows you just how unfair the world is, and how badly people have suffered and ...more
Ryan John
Nov 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could make anyone who wishes that the government would spend less on so-called "entitlement" programs read this book.

The deficiencies in the lives of the children that Kozol outlines in the book are immensely depressing. Even a trip to Burger King was such a rare luxury for one kid that he wrote a composition on it for age 13. Children can't play outside for fear of violence or being plied with drugs. Schools, of course, are in deplorable conditions.

The portrait of the Bro
Don Weidinger
Bronx’s St Ann, cry and cannot explain why, bodies burned-fetal tissue, we came here in chains and now we buy our own chains, treated with sad disrespect by own people at area schools and hospitals, why do people such disrespect, cannot blame others it is self, depression in children too, hate message of when minorities have power, correlation to Paradise Lost-hero is devil, need true help that does not keep us depressed and perpetuate condition, fair treatment by one another, I came that you ma ...more
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will tell you up front that if you are someone from the white middle class of America, this is an uncomfortable book to read. And for that reason alone you should read it.

In this wonderful exploration of life in the South Bronx and Harlem— the ghetto of New York City—Kozol poises the question “How does a nation deal with those whom it has cursed?” He delves into the bleak circumstances of the residents, the shocking inequalities between the resources and facilities available to black and Hispa
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing Grace, by Jonathan Kozol was very inspirational. It's an eye opener, and really made me think. Kozol writes about the experiences had with people from the bronx. The environment that people from that society had to deal with was outrageous, and terrible. This book holds a lot of direct quotes, and situations that happened right before the author. The book is really well written, and well explained.

This book makes me want to go out and help those living horribly, and are put into areas t
This book holds the several voices of those that went through severe points of their lives, ones who settled in South Bronx in the late 1990's. The neighborhoods in South Bronx were squarmed with families that constantly use violence against other people & their own family members. Sickness. Diseases. They spread becuase of the lack of sanitary. This is another thing that drags a family down. The stories these people speak of talks about unfair treatsments from other people, discriminateion, ...more
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Jonathan Kozol is a non-fiction writer, educator, and activist best known for his work towards reforming American public schools. Upon graduating from Harvard, he received a Rhodes scholarship. After returning to the United States, Kozol became a teacher in the Boston Public Schools, until he was fired for teaching a Langston Hughes poem. Kozol has held two Guggenheim Fellowships, has twice been a ...more
More about Jonathan Kozol...

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“A dream does not die on its own. A dream is vanquished by the choices ordinary people make about real things in their own lives...” 34 likes
“You have to remember. . .that for this little boy whom you have met, his life is just as important to him, as your life is to you. No matter how insufficient or how shabby it may seem to some, it is the only one he has.” 29 likes
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