Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nonfiction Monday-- Civil RIghts

Bowers, Rick. Spies of the Mississippi. (January 2010)
During the Civil Rights movement, there were a lot of people with positions of power in the governments of Southern states who were adamantly opposed to segregation, and who had a lot of public support from their constituents. This was, after all, the reason that the fight was so heated. People's opinions had to be changed. It is not surprising, then, that the government of Mississippi was originally opposed to segregation and had entire commissions devoted to keeping the status quo, and that when the Civil Rights movement proved to be more successful than these efforts, that the government locked the files away in a basement and refused to let them be seen.

Mr. Bowers got access to these files, and did an excellent job of poring through them, extricating the most interesting bits, and setting them in historical context so that the information is accessible to middle to upper grade readers. The conversational, almost shocked, tone of the writing makes the events seem more intriguing, and while the research behind this writing is evident, the text hits the highlights and doesn't wallow in details.

My only regret about this book is that the format does not make it appealing to the casual reader. This is even more surprising given that it is a National Geographic title. Had this been accompanied by pictures of important historical figures, events, or even the times in general, it would have been much more appealing. Recent history lends itself to a photojournalistic format, such as that employed in Today the World is Watching You, or We've Got a Job. The cover of this is also dark and somewhat confusing. This could have been an excellent addition to a Civil Rights collection, befitting Mr. Bowers' excellent research, but was disappointingly laid out.

Nonfiction Monday was developed Anastasia Suen and is hosted this week at Books for Learning. Nonfiction Monday will be hosted here on 14 May.


  1. That is disappointing! If there is one thing you would expect from a National Geographic book, it's pictures.

  2. Too bad about the lack of illustrations, but the content sounds great. I'll have to check it out, thanks!

  3. Thanks for participating in the Non-Fiction Monday link up. You have a wonderfully written review. I like the balance of pros and cons. You makes some excellent observation. The topic sounds relevant and interesting.

  4. I agree with Perogyo. I've always enjoyed looking at the photographs from National Geographic. The story sounds interesting, despite that. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! :)