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July 30, 2000

Bill Maxwell
Worrisome gap in education for black men
The National Urban League's annual report on the state of black America is ready for shipping. As it does each year, the survey contains sobering observations and much positive news showing that African-Americans -- as a group -- are increasingly enjoying the nation's broad wealth.

Robyn E. Blumner
A world far from home
Helping Africa means understanding it. In South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Nigeria, a traveler sees the threads of a tattered continent, poverty, corruption, ethnic division, AIDS, desperation, and still hope.

Dragged down by a piece of luggage on wheels
I don't know which to blame more: the wheel or the Americans with Disabilities Act. They both were part of the cause of my way over-packing on a recent three-week excursion to Africa.

George W. Bush's show
This week's Republican convention has been carefully scripted to avoid rancor and surprises. Still, attentive observers may learn something about the candidate.

Limits on corporate power applauded
Re: Government has no business in Redskins opinion, July 23.

Philip Gailey
Finally, a Republican Al Gore can run against
Al Gore has had trouble figuring out how to run against George W. Bush, charmer that he is, but the vice president thinks he knows how to take on Dick Cheney, Bush's vice presidential running mate. Cheney is made to order for the kind of attack politics Gore relishes. And Gore won't even have to stretch the truth, as he is wont to do, to score hits.

Children's books
The Wibbly Pig series, by Mick Inkpen (Viking Books, $5.99 each)

The joy of walking
WALKING PLACES IN FLORIDA, by Diane Marshall (Out There Press, P.O. Box 1173, Asheville, NC 28802, $17, plus $3 shipping)

A walker's pilgrimage for simplicity
where we ought to be.

Ex libris Florida
FLORIDA FLY BOYS: Unless you shared a brew with the Yankees during their early spring training years in St. Petersburg, there is no better way to learn about the myths and the men than through St. Petersburg author Peter Golenbock's Dynasty: The New York Yankees, 1949-1964 (Contemporary Books, $16.95). Even those who have only heard the names Berra, DiMaggio and Mantle will be yanked into this nonfiction book that reads like a novel. From the first lines, readers are transported back to the field and locker rooms of 1949 to listen to the reflections of players, coaches, managers and sports writers. Golenbock's attention to detail, smooth style and compassion for the human spirit transform this sports book into literature.

Off the rack
LISTEN AND READ: Oxford American magazine's annual August Southern Music Issue includes a free CD, with samplings of original songs by Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo and Alison Krauss along with selections from Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Doc Watson and others. Two Yankees are also featured: Dean Martin covering a Patsy Cline song and Robert Mitchum singing a gospel hymn. The magazine is jam-packed with stories on Southern music and musicians as well as Part Four of John Grisham's semi-autobiographical serial novel, The Painted House. Proceeds from the issue help fund the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an organization that helps down-on-their-luck blues artists. Grisham, by the way, is the magazine's not-so-down-on-his-luck publisher. The issue, now available in bookstores, can also be ordered at

A wild ride on the left
The Nation is a national treasure. Since its foundation in 1865, the year America's most devastating war finally dragged itself to an exhausted end, the magazine has told uncomfortable truths the rest of the country's press do their damnedest to ignore. It has afflicted the comfortable, comforted the afflicted and attacked enough sacred cows to hold a community barbecue. Small, poor, progressive and aggressively non-glossy, The Nation's mission is, as Gore Vidal says, "the enlightenment of a citizenry usually most comfortable when lolling in absolute darkness."  

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