Published Online: February 13, 2007
Published in Print: February 14, 2007, as New in Print

Book Review

New in Print

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Milton Friedman: A Biography

by Lanny Ebenstein (Palgrave Macmillan,; 272 pp., $27.95 hardback).

Best known by educators as the father of the school voucher movement, Friedman was one of the most influential economic theorists and political philosophers of the 20th century. In this book, both a biography and an introduction to the ideas that made Friedman famous, Ebenstein, a professor of economics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, traces Friedman’s life from his Hungarian ancestry and birth in Brooklyn in 1912 to his death last November at the age of 94. Along the way, the author seeks to reveal how Friedman’s intellectual efforts were “continually directed toward the betterment of mankind.” One chapter focuses on vouchers, a concept that spurred Friedman’s fascination with individual liberty, Ebenstein writes. Also included are a transcript of a 2005 interview with Friedman and a critical assessment of secondary literature on him.

Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature

by Linda Lear (St. Martin’s Press,; 608 pp., $30 hardback).

An in-depth look at the children’s author and illustrator, shedding light on her later career as a prize-winning sheep farmer and land preservationist.

Learning From Children: The Life and Legacy of Caroline Pratt

by Mary E. Hauser (Peter Lang,; 170 pp., $29.95 paperback).

A history of the progressive educator who founded the City and Country School in New York City in 1914, and pioneered the use of blocks in early-childhood teaching.


Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul

by Edward Humes (Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins,; 400 pp., $25.95 hardback).

Taking its title from the taunt directed at a pro-evolution 14-year-old student in Dover, Pa., by her classmates, this book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist encapsulates the debate surrounding the teaching of “intelligent design” in public schools, through an evaluation of the landmark 2005 court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. Often described as a successor to the 1925 Scopes “monkey trial,” the case stemmed from a rural school board’s decision to add anti-Darwinian teachings to its science curriculum. Though the judge’s ruling overwhelmingly favored the plaintiffs, Humes does not see the trial’s conclusion as an end to the controversy. Rather, he predicts that it will continue to evolve, fed by misinformation—hence the need for an accurate history. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III, who ruled in the case, has called this book a “remarkable and balanced narrative” that captures “the essence of this complex and emotional dispute.”

Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography

by Janet Browne (Atlantic Monthly Press, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic,; 192 pp., $20.95 hardback).

In an unusual approach, a prominent Darwin scholar chronicles the “life” of the scientist’s most famous work.

School Safety

Violence in America’s Schools: Understanding, Prevention, and Responses

by R. Murray Thomas (Praeger, an imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group,; 272 pp., $44.95 hardback).

Thomas, a professor emeritus of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, examines a wide array of physical and psychological behaviors that jeopardize the security of students and school personnel, from vandalism to homicide. His research shows that while school violence perpetrated by students has decreased since the early 1990s, it remains common at all grade levels, with crime rates peaking around the middle school years. Thomas makes recommendations for the prevention of violent acts, but, for when such efforts fail, also advances a “treatment” approach that takes into account the type of crime committed, the purpose of the response, environmental conditions, and both the victim’s and the perpetrator’s needs. While mentioned less frequently, crimes carried out by teachers and administrators, such as child abuse and embezzlement, also are included in this analysis of a problem that has returned to prominence in recent months.

Comprehending Columbine

by Ralph W. Larkin (Temple University Press,; 264 pp., $23.95 paperback).

An investigation into the cultural, environmental, and psychological factors behind the 1999 Columbine High School slayings.

Vol. 26, Issue 23, Page 33

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