The Spectacle Blog

Speaking of Children’s Books

By on 12.12.05 | 4:20PM

What ever happened to Roald Dahl? A copy of Kenneth C. Davis's book, Don't Know Much About Martin Luther King Jr. found its way to my desk, and it's amusing in the worst of ways. If you don't know, the "Don't Know Much About" series is an introduction to a topic for kids 8-12, in question and answer format. Here's an excerpt:

Who called King "the most notorious liar in the country"?

The director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover did, soon after hearing that King would receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Hoover did not say what King was lying about, but hinted that he had done terrible things.

Hoover had hated King for years. He didn't like blacks and especially didn't like King, who fought for social change. He had gotten permission from Robert Kennedy to wiretap King's phone by saying that King associated with communists and was a national danger. (Many Americans in the 1950s and early 1960s feared communism, which was associated with the Soviet Union and the fight for world power.) It was true that King's friend Stanley Levison had given money to the communist party many years earlier, but King was not a communist.

Once Hoover had wiretaps of King's life, he had new ammunition. King told dirty jokes. King had sex with women who weren't his wife. So had President Kennedy -- and Hoover could prove it -- which is why no one could get rid of Hoover. He had been the director of the FBI since its formation in 1924 and knew everybody's secrets.


So the lesson for your children: Hoover hated blacks; King for certain was no communist; President Kennedy was having affairs, which is why it was okay for King to have affairs; and communism was only associated with the Soviet Union, not used by the Soviets to undermine American freedom.

With all that said, I guess Tookie's children's book author credential isn't much help after all. Which reminds me, be sure to check out our Christmas Books suggestions! And if you want some good introductory materials for your high school/college students, by all means have a look at ISI's Student's Guides to the Major Disciplines.

ADDENDUM: This is a book published by HarperTrophy, an imprint of HarperCollins. In other words, this book is not a small-scale print, but has made it through a sizeable house.

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