Social Justice

Justin’s #52 – Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer, 384 pages

October 16, 2015 // 0 Comments

Montana has always had a special place in my heart because I lived and grew up there. I still remember making trips out to Billings (the state’s most populous town and the place of my birth) and stopping for food, or to take advantage of the state’s absence of sales tax by doing a little school clothes shopping in Missoula. In fact, just this year I made a trip out to Missoula with Marine Band New Orleans as I augmented them for their Spring Tour.  This is actually where my interest in Jon Krakauer’s book took fruition: I remember seeing it on a bookshelf in a store in Missoula, and my interest was all the more piqued when I saw Mark write his review for it earlier this year. Finally, I saw it on the shelf at my own library and thought “why not?” Jon wrote this book because a long time family friend was raped not by an acquaintance, but somewhere she knew very well. The book begins with the story of Allison Huguet who was born and raised in Missoula. While attending college in Oregon, she came home one weekend and went to a party with childhood friend Beau […]

Justin’s #39 – Gulag: A History, Anne Applebaum, 736 pages

August 14, 2015 // 0 Comments

I think many in the West would be surprised to know that the death camps the Nazi’s set up in the 1930’s and 40’s did not end. No, Stalin and his oppressive regime continued Hitler’s legacy well into the 20th century. “Gulag: A History” is the end result of years of study by Anne Applebaum into these forced labor camps that were around from the early to late 20th century. Applebaum traces the history of the Gulag, or labor camp, from a few different perspectives, only giving an actual “history” (as in a timeline) as how the Gulag began and how they were ultimately ended. In between, she gives an idea of: 1) what crime had to be committed to be sentenced to the Gulag; 2) transportation to and in-processing; 3) life in the camps; 4) living conditions; 5) work, play, and jobs; 6) and how people escaped among others. Suffice it to say without going into too much detail, these were really camps were people were dehumanized to the point where they became shadows or ghosts that were living. Given very little to eat, very many died due to exhaustion. The Soviets used the camps to mine for materials, […]

Ron’s #2: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

January 29, 2012 // 0 Comments

When I was in Mrs. Neidz’s 9th grade English class, I tried to bluff my way through discussions using only the Cliffsnotes version of reading Huck Finn. I hoped it was good enough to help me pass the quizzes. During the class, I found myself interested in the story and actually wished I had read the book. Never enough to actually read it, though. It took me over ten years to actually read it for myself. I earned a D in 9th grade English, by the way. Huck Finn is a classic for a reason: it is really, really good. Part adventure down the Mississippi, part friendship between Huck and Jim, part social commentary on the treatment of blacks in the South. It is an important book, and no high school student should graduate without reading it. Sadly, many teachers today shy away from it because of the overabundance of the use of the N-word, a hyper-reaction to political correctness. Most educated readers will quickly see that this is as racist as Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” is cannibalistic. I’ve taught Huck Finn many times, and I still find new aspects to appreciate and enjoy about the book. And for […]

Ron’s #1: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

January 11, 2011 // 3 Comments

** Insert witty opening line about being the best of times and the worst of times here ** As I prepared to teach this novel to my classes of Honors 10th graders, I approached reading this book as a chore, one likened to when my teacher assigned it to me in the 10th grade. Like so many others, I didn’t read it, and then I complained how much I hated the book for years after. I not only criticized this work, but the entire Charles Dickens canon, all based on my failure to read the book. Fortunately, things have changed. I read A Christmas Carol in 2010, and I noticed that I enjoyed how Dickens wrote sentences. They were complex and descriptive and funny. After that, I had a better attitude about reading A Tale of Two Cities, and I was glad that I did. It’s a great story of love, war, mistaken identity, and freedom. More than that, there is Madame Defarge, unquestionable the meanest, cruelest, ugliest woman in literature. Can you think of a woman in literature that is her equal? If so, please add it to the comments. I cannot think of any. There’s my favorite scene […]

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