Book description

Book info

eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherW. W. Norton & Company
File size3.6 Mb
Release date 02.10.1997
Pages count432
Book rating4.37 (6 votes)
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In a narrative of unsparing detail leavened by compassion and even hope, Earl Shorris takes us inside the lives of the poor - in Oakland, rural Tennessee, El Paso, the South Bronx, and many points in between - so that we understand who they are and see through their eyes the "surround of force" that is their horizon, that prevents them from achieving a full and true citizenship. So rich is this book in the words and thoughts of the poor themselves that they are in a sense its authors. Like any good story, this one has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We begin by listening to what the poor have to say about their lives. Once we know who they are and how much like us they are, we are ready to understand the world they live in, and why they are poor. Finally, and most surprisingly, we are asked to consider a revolutionary idea that has been taking quiet shape before our eyes all through the narrative: if the poor are human, and if the cultivation of their humanity benefits both society and the poor themselves, then why not teach them the humanities as the basic tools of citizenship? In order to test his theory, Shorris started a school on the Lower East Side of New York City. He used donated books and borrowed space, and he enlisted friends to help him teach logic, poetry, art, and moral philosophy to a group of young people whose collective background included prison, hard drugs, and homelessness. This experiment, which forms the triumphant climax of New American Blues, yielded extraordinary results: a majority of the students are now enrolled in four-year colleges, and it is no exaggeration to say that their lives have been transformed. One of the students, describing a difficultdecision in his personal life, said: "I asked myself, 'What would Socrates do?'" Imagine a solution to poverty far less costly than welfare or prison, one that encourages a reconnection to public life. Imagine an argument so powerful that it prevails against the cruel lies of The Bell

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