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BAN THIS BOOK (audiobook) by Alan Gratz

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Published in 2017 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. Read by Bahni Turpin. Duration: 5 hours, 17 minutes. Unabridged. My Synopsis Ban This Book is the story of Amy Anne Ollinger, a fourth grade girl who is shocked when she gets to the library and finds out that her favorite book, From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler , has been removed from the shelves as part of a book ban. Amy Anne reads all sorts of books (except Captain Underpants books - they're kind of silly) but she loves this book and comes back to it often. She has read it 13 times and wanted to read it again.  Amy Anne is told that a parent has complained to the school board about several books and they skipped the established plan to deal with these sorts of complaints and simply voted to remove them.  Amy Anne's parents buy her a copy of the book and she takes it to school to read when she can during the day. Her friends find out about the book ban, see that she has a copy and ask to read it. In return, they

KINGDOM of RAGE: THE RISE of CHRISTIAN EXTREMISM and the PATH BACK to PEACE (audiobook) by Elizabeth Neumann

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Published by Worthy Books in 2024. Read by Erin Bennett. Duration: 8 hours, 38 minutes. Unabridged. Elizabeth Neumann worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the George W. Bush and Trump administrations.  During the Bush Administration, the work of the DHS centered around preventing attempts by foreign groups, usually Muslim-based, to commit acts of terrorism on the United States or on Americans abroad. She became an expert on why some Muslims were radicalizing (or self-radicalizing), the signs of what to look for, and things that can be done to prevent radicalization. During the Trump Administration, she started seeing more and more reports about domestic terrorism, usually coming from self-radicalized ultra-conservatives who are encouraged by media. Two prime examples are the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter and the El Paso shooter. Both issued manifestos that quoted liberally from fringe MAGA Conservative theories, like the  Great Replacement theory pushed by politician

RUN: BOOK ONE (graphic novel) by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

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Illustrated by L. Fury and Nate Powell. Published by Harry N. Abrams in 2021. This spring I read the MARCH , the three volume graphic novel series about Congressman  John Lewis  (1940-2020) and the Civil Rights movement. When I finished the series, I thought to myself that it would be interesting to see how John Lewis ran for Congress and the struggles he encountered in an era where the KKK still openly marched. My Synopsis: The graphic novel RUN picks up right where MARCH  trilogy left off. At the end of the  MARCH trilogy, there was a celebration of the passage of the Civil Rights bills - a moment of success. There was also the murder of a volunteer who was helping with the celebration by anti-Civil Rights forces. RUN explores what happened after the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had it first taste of success.  At the end of  MARCH , there was a celebration of the passage of the Civil Rights bills. With that, a long-term goal achieved there was a lot of discuss

SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut

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The first edition cover Published with the alternate title "The Children's Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death." Originally published in 1969. Listed in Time Magazine's 100 Best Novels Since 1923. Slaughterhouse-Five is the most famous, most celebrated, and most controversial novel of Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007.)  My synopsis: The book serves as a memoir to Vonnegut's horrific experiences as a prisoner of war in World War II and as a sci-fi exploration of the concept of time travel.  Vonnegut's very green unit was rotated to the front in December of 1944 in order to give experienced combat troops a break. The weather was bad, the terrain was bad, and the Germans had been retreating regularly. It was presumed that the Germans would be content to settle in to winter quarters, rest, refit, and pick up the fighting in 1945.  Instead, the Germans launched a surprise offensive and what followed was the Battle of the Bulge . Lots of Americans were captured and taken back

THE MOMENT: THOUGHTS on the RACE RECKONING THAT WASN'T and HOW WE CAN ALL MOVE FORWARD NOW (audiobook) by Bakari Sellers

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Published in 2024 by HarperAudio. Read by the author, Bakari Sellers. Duration: 4 hours, 33 minutes. Unabridged. The Moment that Bakari Sellers refers to in his book is the so-called moment of racial reckoning that came with the murder of George Floyd and the protests all around the country that followed. Sellers discusses a lot of relevant things that lead up to this moment including the murder of 9 African Americans by a young White supremacist in Charleston in 2015 and Covid-19. But, events like the Buffalo shooting  of 2022, continued questionable acts of  and media and political-types discussing the Great Replacement Theory from 2017 until the present day have shown that moment of reckoning was not a big a moment that people supposed it was. Or, it demonstrates that the racist elements in America are pushing back hard. I have run across Sellers as a guest on a couple of different podcasts that I follow and have always found him to be thoughtful and engaging. I have to admit, ho

WHITE RURAL RAGE: THE THREAT to AMERICAN DEMOCRACY (audiobook) by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman

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Published in 2024 by Random House Audio. Read by Ray Porter. Duration: 11 hours, 2 minutes. Unabridged. White Rural Rage is a look at the rural/urban divide in the United States in politics as personified in the MAGA movement.  The book is broken up into multiple chapters, each with a theme about how rural America is advantaged even though they claim they are put upon by urban elites. Sometimes, the authors have a point, sometimes they are just grinding their axes for no particular reason (like in the pickup truck chapter.) The book has some excellent points, but it clearly written like an extended opinion hit piece rather than an extended informational piece and that did nothing but hurt the audiobook in my opinion.  I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: WHITE RURAL RAGE: THE THREAT to AMERICAN DEMOCRACY by Tom Schaller and Paul Waldman.

ATTUCKS! OSCAR ROBERTSON and the BASKETBALL TEAM THAT AWAKENED A CITY by Phillip Hoose

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Published in 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) NOTE: Also published under the title UNBEATABLE! Attucks!  appears to be just a story about a 1950's era basketball team, but it is much more than that. it is the story of Jim Crow style racism in a northern state. It is the story of an underdog school getting its chance to compete at the highest level. It is the story of one amazing player, a great coach, and Indiana's famous single class basketball system. First - the single class basketball system. Back in the 1900's, Indiana had a single class basketball system. This means that every team was in the same playoff system together - no matter how big or how small. This was highlighted in the based-on-a-true-story movie Hoosiers. The true story had Milan High School (161 students) beating Muncie Central (1600+ students) in 1954. Usually, it wasn't that dramatic of a disparity, but small town schools did very well from 1911-1954. The biggest city in the state, Indianap