Download Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America Audiobook

Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America Audiobook, by Jonathan Kozol Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jonathan Kozol Narrator: Keythe Farley Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2012 ISBN: 9780449012604
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   In this powerful and culminating work about a group of inner-city children he has known for many years, Jonathan Kozol returns to the scene of his prize-winning books Rachel and Her Children and Amazing Grace, and to the children he has vividly portrayed, to share with us their fascinating journeys and unexpected victories as they grow into adulthood.

   For nearly fifty years Jonathan has pricked the conscience of his readers by laying bare the savage inequalities inflicted upon children for no reason but the accident of being born to poverty within a wealthy nation. A winner of the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and countless other honors, he has persistently crossed the lines of class and race, first as a teacher, then as the author of tender and heart-breaking books about the children he has called “the outcasts of our nation’s ingenuity.” But Jonathan is not a distant and detached reporter. His own life has been radically transformed by the children who have trusted and befriended him.

   Never has this intimate acquaintance with his subjects been more apparent, or more stirring, than in Fire in the Ashes, as Jonathan tells the stories of young men and women who have come of age in one of the most destitute communities of the United States. Some of them never do recover from the battering they undergo in their early years, but many more battle back with fierce and, often, jubilant determination to overcome the formidable obstacles they face. As we watch these glorious children grow into the fullness of a healthy and contributive maturity, they ignite a flame of hope, not only for themselves, but for our society.
   The urgent issues that confront our urban schools – a devastating race-gap, a pathological regime of obsessive testing and drilling students for exams instead of giving them the rich curriculum that excites a love of learning – are interwoven through these stories. Why certain children rise above it all, graduate from high school and do well in college, while others are defeated by the time they enter adolescence, lies at the essence of this work.

   Jonathan Kozol is the author of Death at an Early Age, Savage Inequalities, and other books on children and their education. He has been called “today’s most eloquent spokesman for America’s disenfranchised.” But he believes young people speak most eloquently for themselves; and in this book, so full of the vitality and spontaneity of youth, we hear their testimony.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Fire in the Ashes isn’t some saccharine account of how disadvantaged youth get a break and then triumph over adversity.  Instead, Kozol shows us the very real costs of putting children in bad schools….Throughout, Kozol connects with these kids and young adults on a human level, refusing to step on to some political soapbox. Boston Globe

    “As I read Fire in the Ashes and thought about Kozol's admirably principled commitment to chronicling the lives of the urban poor, I marveled at his staying power.  His tone, too, has been consistent for almost 50 years – cool, smart, empathetic and, despite all the evidence to rebut his convictions, full of hope….Kozol's brilliant body of work shines a light not merely on the lives of the poor, but also into the dark night of the American soul.
  • Check out this magnificent book, because I think you’ll like it.  For anyone [who] cares about his fellow human, Fire in the Ashes burns bright. Savannah Morning News
  • Engrossing chronicle of lives blighted and redeemed....Eschewing social science jargon and deploying extraordinary powers of observation and empathy, Kozol crafts dense, novelistic character studies that reveal the interplay between individual personality and the chaos of impoverished circumstances.  Like a latter-day Dickens (but without the melodrama), he gives us another powerful indictment of America's treatment of the poor. Publisher's Weekly (starred)
  • In this engaging, illuminating, often moving book, [Kozol] recounts the lives of poor black and Latino children—many now close friends—who once lived in Manhattan’s Martinique Hotel….Cleareyed, compassionate and hopeful. Kirkus Reviews (starred)
  • “An engaging look at the broader social implications of ignoring poverty as well as a very personal look at individuals struggling to overcome it. Booklist (starred)
  • Jonathan Kozol is America’s premier chronicler of life among the children of societal neglect. And Fire in the Ashes may be his best book yet . . . . Kozol does not just write about these people; he becomes an intimate part of their lives, sharing their triumphs, defeats, and, too often, mourning their deaths . . . . If you care about the children who are the future of America, this is a book you must read. Ellis Cose, author of The End of Anger and The Rage of a Privileged Class
  • Despite the steep odds stacked against these childrenwhich too many cannot overcomethis is a hopeful book thanks to those who do. The incredible resilience, grit and grace of children like Pineapple are a call to urgent action. Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund
  • Kozol has a knack for describing his relationships with poverty-stricken children with a sympathy that is so straightforward one cannot indulge in pity.  Fire in the Ashes is a wonderful book. I couldn’t put it down. Deborah Meier, author of In Schools We Trust and The Power of Their Ideas
  • Fire in the Ashes is a terrific book—powerful, insightful, and heartbreaking. David Berliner, author of The Manufactured Crisis
  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2012
    A Booklist 2012 Editor’s Choice Selection
  • Kozol’s storytelling gifts shine through: with simple anecdotes that show the soulful humor, compassion, and wisdom that kindles progress among the survivors. Christian Science Monitor

Listener Reviews

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  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penny | 2/15/2014

    " I read this for a book club and am really glad that I did. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 2/12/2014

    " I appreciate the respect he demonstrates by not giving any easy answers "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcia | 2/11/2014

    " Very interesting and eye opening read. It offers a peak into the lives of poor urban families and how it impacts the children coming from the projects. My biggest critique is that Kozol only offers these stories, without giving suggestions for the solution to the problem of getting poor children through the system successfully. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sara | 2/9/2014

    " Anecdotally interesting, but I found it hard to know how to apply this across the board for a greater impact. Of course, I suspect that's partially the point: no one solution will solve poverty, bad schools, etc. I did not care for each chapter essentially being a story of one person's life with little thought given to lessons learned. Overall, though, I think it's an important book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachael | 2/8/2014

    " " has never been a substitute, not in any amplitude, for systematic justice and systematic equity in public education. ...public schools themselves in neighborhoods of widespread destitution ought to have the rich resources, small classes, and well-prepared and well-rewarded teachers that would enable us to give to every child the feast of learning that is now available to children of the poor only on the basis of a careful selectivity or by catching the attention of empathetic people like the pastor of a church or another grown-up whom they meet by chance. Charity and chance and narrow selectivity are not the way to educate the children of a genuine democracy." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 2/3/2014

    " Nothing really new here, just a series of case histories on children growing up in the South Bronx, one of the poorest places in the entire country, and the challenges they face in life and school. Some of them make it out, with help from adults who care; others do not. Once again, Kozol shows in simplest terms why blaming the poor for poverty helps no one, that how we treat the poor only compounds the problems, and that not everyone who winds up homeless is to blame (ie, displaced due to fire, etc)in a system that is deliberately set up to discourage people from ever seeking help. He's made me hate people who blame the poor for their issues, for they have no concept of the depth of the problems. And a pee test ain't gonna solve nothing but raising your taxes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Miriam | 1/30/2014

    " How could I dislike anything that Jonathan Kozol writes? He makes a personal connection and helps you to want the best for the children and families that he writes about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie | 1/20/2014

    " Very enlightening. I wish I could do something meaningful to helps kids like this! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lauren | 1/16/2014

    " Very informative. However, "informative" does not make for a page-turning tone or storyline. No real acts with climaxes and resolutions, just events and some character development. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elina | 11/19/2013

    " In his typical ethnographic style; I think I was looking for a deeper level of analysis and policy prescriptions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 11/9/2013

    " Should be required reading for everyone, particularly people who think it's only "personal responsibility" that leads to success and not societal factors at all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenn | 9/16/2013

    " Difficult to read. Kozol paints vivid pictures of those that have been and continue to be marginalized. 25 years and almost nothing has changed for those who are born into poverty no matter what the folks from TFA would like use to believe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rhonda | 9/4/2013

    " Amazing. Kozol's look at race, poverty, choice, power, and family is moving and captivating. Highly recommend for education, social work, or policy students, or those that want to know what our teachers and social workers and millions of poor families face across the nation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 MeLisa | 8/15/2013

    " Everyone should read Jonathan Kozol's work. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole | 3/19/2013

    " Kozol gives updates on many of the families that were introduced in previous books. I enjoyed the book as much as one can enjoy a book of this nature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trish | 2/4/2013

    " It is a powerful, eye-opening book about children growing up in poverty in the Bronx and surrounding area and the people who intervene to save some of them from the mean streets. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/9/2012

    " Wonderful and tragic and hopeful...these are the stories of families Kozol has followed throughout his career. It is, above all, a call to action. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 9/30/2012

    " It is incredible to see how some kids have the resiliency to overcome so much adversity while others do not. What really makes the difference? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 9/14/2012

    " Not very far in, yet, but already it's great in the usual Kozol fashion. "

About the Author

Jonathan Kozol is the National Book Award–winning author of Fire in the Ashes, Savage Inequalities, Death at an Early Age, and other New York Times bestselling nonfiction. He has been working with children in inner-city schools for nearly fifty years. The most widely read and highly honored education writer in America, he has been awarded the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.