April 09, 2010
Obama Books Discussion--Thursday, April 29, 1pm, 6050 ISR
The next ISR Reads discussion is on Thursday, April 29, from 1-2:15pm in Room 6050 ISR to discuss two books by Barack Obama: Dreams From My Father and Audacity of Hope. Lunch will be provided.
July 16, 2008
The Other Side of the River
The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America's Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz reports on two towns in southwest Michigan and a murder case that exposed racial tensions. For reviews, see below.
The author of There Are No Children Here follows up that magnificent effort with the gripping story of a mysterious death in southwest Michigan. A black teenager surfaces in the St. Joseph River, drowned. How did he get there? The towns of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, divided by both race and the river, grapple with the possibilities in this maddeningly difficult case. Alex Kotlowitz puts his sharp reporting skills to good work here, describing in detail everything that is known about Eric McGinnis's short life and untimely death. But the book is best at plumbing the racial psychology of these mutually suspicious communities. The Other Side of the River has that can't-put-it-down quality found in the best narrative nonfiction, and it speaks to issues affecting all of America.
From Library Journal
Kotlowitz (There Are No Children Here, LJ 4/1/91) has produced another exemplary piece of investigative reportage that reveals the chasm between blacks and whites, rich and poor, in America. Two Michigan towns?predominately white, prosperous St. Joseph and predominantly black, poverty-stricken Benton Harbor?are separated by a river and years of mistrust, suspicion, and vastly differing life experiences. When the death of a black teenage boy found floating in the river remains unsolved, the polarized perceptions of blacks and whites toward the justice system are exposed. Kotlowitz's Herculean efforts to unravel the mystery is unsuccessful, but the telling of his pursuit of the truth is a compelling and suspense-filled story. And in the absence of definitive answers, the myths and perceptions created from the distinct historical experiences of the two communities become the truth that ultimately matters. Highly recommended for all libraries.
-Faye Powell, Portland State Univ. Lib., Ore.
From Kirkus Reviews
A powerful record of an untimely death--perhaps suicide, more probably murder--in middle America, from the writer whose 1991 bestseller There Are No Children Here awoke the country to the reality of life in urban ghettoes. Former Wall Street Journal staff writer Kotlowitz stumbled on the story of Eric McGinnis's 1991 death in southern Michigan a year after the fact, when, he writes, he should have been covering the Los Angeles riots in the wake of the Rodney King trial. Yet he maintains, and rightly, that McGinnis's death speaks equal volumes about the condition of race relations in America. McGinnis, a black teenager, was found drowned in a narrow river separating two small communities, one white and well-to-do (St. Joseph), the other black and desperately poor (Benton Harbor). The facts of McGinnis's death are, Kotlowitz notes, ``elusive . . . And your perspective . . . is shaped by which side of the river you live on.'' Black teenagers maintained that whites in St. Joseph murdered McGinnis because he had dated a white girl; white teenagers blamed his death on rival gangs that had moved in from Chicago and Detroit. Both sides abandoned rational discourse to pursue vendettas, while their elders reverted to long-held notions of the virtues of sticking with one's own kind. There are no villains, exactly, in Kotlowitz's narrative, which is full of voices from both sides of the river and which at times takes on a Rashomon-like quality. Nor are there many heroes. And the victim himself, writes Kotlowitz, was just a regular kid, ``insecure, self-involved, and at times self-destructive,'' who may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The trouble is, as Kotlowitz's book shows, America is full of wrong places, depending on the color of one's skin. This sad message lends McGinnis's death meaning, even if, as the author admits, we will probably never know what caused it. Kotlowitz has produced a skillfully rendered, thoughtful study of a divided country in microcosm.
Creating New Entries
In order to create a new entry, you need to become an Author of the ISR Reads blog. To do that, go to http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/ and Log In. Then send an e-mail to ISRreads@isr.umich.edu to let the blog administrators know that you have logged into the mBlog system and one of us will add you to the list of authors, at which time you can create an entry.
Further instructions in the extended entry.
This blogging software is easy to use, but if you would like someone to walk you through your first entry, please see Lee in the PSC Library and she can get you started (e-mail her to make sure she is there!). We don’t want technology to hold back anyone’s participation.
To create an entry:
Go to http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/ and log in. You will see your own blog space and the ISR Reads blog. Click on the title of the blog (the address will just take you to the blog).
1. Click on New Entry. The title should be something short, but descriptive.
2. Choose a Primary Category. In most cases the category will be the book you wish to discuss. Multiple categories may be used, but they are added after the entry is saved.
3. Type your entry in the Entry Body. If it is especially long, you might choose to use the Extended Entry. If you like, you can create your entry in a separate document (MS Word, for example) and copy it over, but font styles (bold, italics, underscore, etc.) will not come over and need to be added.
4. The blogging system will not automatically create links. If you want to link to a website, highlight the text and click on button between the underscore and envelope (which is used for creating an e-mail hyperlink) and paste the URL in the pop-up box.
5. When you are done with your entry, click Preview to make sure it looks ok. Then either re-edit to make changes or save to publish your entry.
6. To add another category to your entry, click on Assign Multiple Categories, which will have magically appeared under the Category menu. Click on the category you want to add, then assign, then save. You will need to save the entry again.
7. If you like, you can save your entry as a draft to post at a later time, or you can schedule the entry to publish at a later time or date by changing the Authored On date and time.