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For Young Minds - Two Offerings

mp3, 3.18 MBs, 3:58

[Col. Writ. 5/27/03]

Years ago, at the urging of the late activist, Susan Burnett, this writer periodically released a booklist, which Susan promptly put up on the Web, and readers, especially young people, frequently wrote and commented about various books, some of which had a deep impression on their growth and development.

Over time, that process ceased, for various reasons, among them, the passing of Susan.

Sometimes a book, or booklet, comes along which makes this writer think about young persons, or even folks who aren't so young, because they are well-written, offer insights into contested arenas of history or politics, or offer a radical view of these areas. I especially think of young folks when the texts are relatively brief (probably because I remember my own phobias about big, thick books when I was a youngster). If the books are illustrated, or made in comic form, so much the better!

Instead of a booklist, I want to discuss two relatively recent works, in the hope that young readers will acquire them, and hopefully learn from them, and maybe--just maybe-- discuss them with their friends and peers.

  1. Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism, by Joel Andreas (illustrator & writer): As America has recently embraced the path to what appears to be global war, in the face of mass protests against such wars, it is important to expose young folks to alternative views of the roots and reasons for war. Addicted to War is funny, brilliant, skillfully drawn in black ink, and even footnoted with pages full of references. If you are a young person who suspects everything you've heard on the news, or read in the newspaper isn't on the up and up, Addicted is for you. It'll explain, not just recent wars (Gulf War I, Vietnam, etc.) but will reveal the economic andmilitary forces that advocated war, and the weak excuses they utilized to get into foreign countries. It also illustrates the impact of war on average American people, from housewives, to schoolkids, and, of course, to those almost uncountable poor souls who bore the brunt of American war fever: the peoples of the world (mostly the so-called Third World!). Youngsters (and some older folks) will never look at war in quite the same way after reading this 69-page book. Addicted to War is now available in Japanese, and will soon come out in Korean, Spanish, and other languages.
  2. The Black Holocaust for Beginners, by Sam E. Anderson: Unlike Addicted to War , Anderson's The Black Holocaust is not a comic book. It is heavily, and expertly illustrated, yet what drives the book is the text, as raw as new wounds on the skin of the psyche. It is a brilliant telling of, not just the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but the equally monstrous Arab slave trade along the eastern shores of Africa, which lasted some 600 years longer, and lasts up until our age. It is written in matter-of-fact style, straight forward; a chilling portrayal of foreign rapes and exploitation of Africa. It shows that the trade in human bondage was a global process, which involved and impacted millions of people. It uses both classical texts (like Cheikh Anta Diop's Civilization or Barbarism ) and numerous records from the period to give the speech, and flavor of the times to illustrate how economic, political, and social forces converged to justify slavery, and exploit the labor of millions. It's not 'fun' (it's not supposed to be), but it is informative. It really is the roots of America and much of the West.

I recommend both of these works to young readers in the spirit of learning why things are the way they are (which I consider the very essence of history). Enjoy!

( Addicted to War is published by AK Press (US), 674-A 23rd St., Oakland, CA
94612-1163. It's available from fdorrel@addictedtowar.com. The Black Holocaust for Beginners is published by Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 461, Village Stn., New York, NY 10014. It is part of the For Beginners Documentary Comic Book series, which produces books on a variety of complex subjects. They may be reached at (212) 982-3158)


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Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.