Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol is a classic in its field. It is a searing indictment of white greed, indifference, and racial hatred that keeps New York's South Bronx depressed and cut off from the land of opportunity. Interviewing men, women, and children who live in "one of the most diseased and dangerous communities in any city in the Western world," the author of Savage Inequalities finds worn-down individuals whose neighborhoods have been ravaged by gang wars, fires, toxic dumps, rats, and neglect. In addition, they are sick and tired of being viewed by whites as ugly, unclean, and lazy.

Kozol does not stop with this disturbing portrait of the South Bronx, however. He also finds many saintly women and grandmothers there who are heroic in defense of those they love. And he locates some black children who are filled with spiritual buoyancy. Amazing Grace needs to be read and taken to heart by all Americans.