History is messy, and revolution messier still. I would like very much to obtain a history textbook for high school that is used in the UK-- what would this text book say about the American Revolution? Not much good, I imagine. These two biographies address men who are considered heroes by some and villains by others. Were they more or less effective than men like Ghandi or Martin Luther King, Jr.? It's hard to be a revolutionary without killing people, but it's harder for most people to consider men heroes when they have blatant disregard for the lives of those who stand against them.
Doeden, Matt. A Marked Man: The Assassination of Malcolm X
1 February 2013, Twenty First Century Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
"A black man should give his life to be free, and he should also be willing to take the life of those who want to take his." Unlike Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X was determined to change the situation for black Americans more quickly. In the early 1950s, he started advocating violence as a way to best achieve these goals, and had the Nation of Islam behind his methods. There is a good explanation about the differences between traditional Islam and the Nation of Islam, and Louis Farakkhan. Eventually, he changed his mind about the use of violence, which put him at odds with the leaders of the group. Malcolm knew that given his violent history, he would not survive to old age, but his death brought up suspicion of greater conspiracies. This book does a good job of describing Malcolm's early life and the start of his political activism, then details his change of philosophy and the various circumstances surrounding his death. The book is attractively formatted with lots of pictures, although the E ARC loaded VERY slowly. The back of the book includes a timeline, short biographies of other key players, and a good bibliography.
Kallen, Stuart A. Che Guevara: You Win or You Die
1 October 2012, Twenty First Century Books
I didn't know that Guevara was a medical doctor, that he suffered from severe asthma, or that he was born in Argentina but died in Bolivia. His involvement with Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution was all I knew. This book discussed Che's early life and his well-to-do family, then discussed the rest of his life with the background of his political activities. I especially liked the format of this book-- biographies have changed in the last ten years from blocks of texts broken up by eight page sections of photographs, and that's a good thing. This book had section headings, sidebars, and lots of photographs, so it was not as boring as page after page of text. The portrayal of Che is very balanced, giving plenty of time to his motivation to help the downtrodden but not neglecting his murderous tendencies concerning those he considered oppressors.
Here are a few multicultural reviews. Again, putting these together involves being near a computer, which I try to avoid at all costs:
Bijoy and the Big River at Saffron Tree
Courage Has No Color at TMC Guys Read
Dark Dude at Guys Lit Wire
Greenhorn at Middle Grade Ninja
Hide and Seek at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Little Yokozuna at Charlotte's Library
What's For Lunch at Jean Little Library