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Feb 182014
 

The Children

The Children

A remarkable true story of heroism, courage, and faithLike the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the civil rights movement has achieved mythical status in America–an epic tale of heroes and martyrs; of sacrifice, honor, and courage in the face of overwhelming odds; of ideals worth dying for in a time and place where death was an all-too-real possibility. In The Children, prize-winning journalist and author David Halberstam goes back in time to the beginnings of the civil rights movement in Na

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  3 Responses to “The Children”

  1. 26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A Superb, Masterful Retelling Of A Most Remarkable Story!, April 22, 2002
    By 
    Barron Laycock “Labradorman” (Temple, New Hampshire United States) –
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

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    This review is from: The Children (Paperback)

    As a veteran reader of 20th century history books, I’ve long considered David Halberstam to be one of the best and brightest of the contemporary historians publishing today. He is also, not so coincidentally, one of the most prolific, as well, having produced a steady stream of works covering such myriad historical and cultural subjects as a study of how the Kennedy and Johnson administrations stumbled and blundered their way into the quagmire of Vietnam to more whimsical studies of pop-cultural aspects of American life such as major league baseball and the effects of the seasons on residents of the island of Nantucket off the Massachusetts coast. In this book, “The Children”, Halberstam focuses on the fascinating subject of the American civil rights movement from its genesis in thee black colleges and churches of the American south to its development as a pan-American movement during the early 1960s.

    One of the most admirable qualities of this superb book stems from the fact that Halberstam was in fact an eye-witness to many of the events described here, being a recent Harvard graduate who soon finds himself getting a heaping helping of ordinary racist reality in the 1950s-early 1960s American south. His interest in becoming a journalist draws him to a local city desk at an iconoclastically liberal southern paper that tolerates his naivety and cashes in on his energy and natural ability to write. Yet this is not a story in any manner about Halberstam. Rather, it is the fact that he waited so long to write about this era of his own career that makes it so mind-boggling, for he brings all of his mature powers of observation and description to bear on this story in a way that breathes fire and life into the oft-told tale, and makes each of the protagonists both more ordinary and more real.

    This is an important aspect of the story itself, for now, some forty years later, it is easy to forget how young and unworldly many of these youngsters were. In facing the challenges of the times as well as their own well-founded fears, each of them gradually becomes an extraordinary person. Here we have a master of prose describing these extraordinary events with a breathtaking narrative, focusing on each of the several individuals in turn in showing how the welter of events, circumstances, and individual personalities combine to create a social revolution by daring to oppose the most hoary of racial taboos through the practice of public non-violent opposition. This is a story that describes the epic beginnings and dramatic evolution of a veritable social revolution in America, one that changed the face of our society forever.

    This is a riveting book, one that well deserves the wide reading it has enjoyed to date. While the ground covered here has been canvassed before, most notably by Taylor Branch in his terrific two-volume history if the black struggle for equal rights in the United States during the 1950s-1970s, Halberstam’s treatment is so personal, so well documented, and so meticulously narrated that one finds himself swept along with the tide of events and changes as the flood crests into a social revolution, drowning the vestiges and roots of the old culture in its path. There’s a chorus of amazing and erstwhile protagonists here, from a young and naïve John L. Lewis to a crafty and devious Marion Berry, from an impressionable and impassioned Diane Nash to a determined and dedicated Rev. James Lawson, from an inspirational young Martin Luther King to a daring James Berel. This is truly a story that needs to be told and retold, for it comprises the quintessential American epic, something that could have happened nowhere but here.

    This book carries the signature trademark qualities of all of Halberstam’s work; it is a meticulously researched, powerfully narrated and beautifully described work of history, one that focuses on one of the most remarkable events of the 20th century, the rise and growth of the indigenous black civil rights movement in the American South. It a testimony to the power of non-violent protest, and a paean to the wisdom and understanding a generation of unworldly black youngsters brought to bear on their times. I highly recommend this book! Enjoy!

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  2. 14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Another important and really big book from Halberstam, December 14, 1999
    By 
    Doug Vaughn
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      

    This review is from: The Children (Paperback)

    David Halberstam is one of those writers who seem to have more words than he can reasonably use. His books fairly bulge at the seams and yet in reading any of his works, it is seldom that a reader feels that too much has been included. As a reporter he seems to have fallen in love with the tangible fact, the telling detail, and he fills his books with them. The Children, an account of the young men and women who initiated the ‘sit ins’ that sparked the early civil rights movement, is as richly detailed as a Durer etching. The cast of characters is large and the setting in which they are placed is brought to life with great skill.

    Halberstam has a way of making sense of things that might mystify most writers. He does this by creating a meaningful context and by deomonstrating meaningful connections – between actions as well as characters. There is a lot of book here, and one can easily loose sight of the story line by getting bogged down in some of the detailed digressions that he seems to love, but taken as a whole, this book makes real the mostly unremembered young heros who drug their elders kicking and screaming into the movement.

    I think this is a very important book and deserves a place on any bookshelf devoted to our recent history.

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  3. 9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Fast Pace Read, November 15, 2004
    By 
    Michael R. Nothstine (Wilmore, Ky) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Children (Paperback)

    David Halberstam’s publication “The Children” is an exciting overview of the Civil Rights Movement from an enamored journalist through the eyes of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. (SNCC) The author focuses on the major players such as Diane Nash, James Bevel, Jim Lewis, Curtis Murphy, Bernard Lafayette and James Lawson, with heavy emphasis on the Nashville Sit-In Movement and Freedom Rides. The strength of his work is that it reads much more like a fast paced novel than an academic analysis. He does however at the same time provide plenty of background material and socio-economic, political and cultural variables within his work. Halberstam also revisits these former SNCC workers after the “high” of the movement and even much later in life. It’s quite obvious the work of a journalist within the pages.

    This is a good overview of Civil Rights through the eyes of SNCC rather than a broader based examination of the movement. Halberstam’s book is quite impressive, and what I admire is the length of information he was able to attain from the vast interviews he received, largely because he had already covered and had known many of the players as a journalist covering the Civil Rights Movement. If you are just starting out or have little knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement this book would be a good starting point. Journalists make great writers because they simply know how to tell a story. Well done!

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