Comparison Book Review
History is a domain that seeks to record past events for future references and to provide valuable lessons. The same concerns the texts being under comparative review the present paper. They are Schultz’s History, the third edition and The Civil Rights Movement by Levy. Both of these texts cover the American history, but they are concerned with different periods of time and different spheres of knowledge. The motive of this paper is to study the differences in the approaches of the writers as well as the similarities between them.
The first major departure point for both of these texts is their scope. The title History certainly underlines the idea of the book. The reader is bound to ask themselves: “the history of what?” However, this question is soon answered in the book under consideration. Even a superficial look at the contents will show the readers that Schultz intends to record America’s history in its entirety since the beginning of time. This serves well for the readers who want general information about important events, dates, and perhaps important figures from history. In a nutshell, Schultz’s rationale is that by reading this book, a reader has all the basic facts about America at their fingertips (Schultz).
On the contrary, the scope of Levy’s The Civil Rights Movement is vastly different. This text, on the other hand, has a narrow focus on one specific moment in history that is the American Civil Rights Movement. The book analyzes in depth the triggers behind the Civil Rights Movement and how it galvanized the fight for human rights in other parts of the world by similarly disaffected groups. Specific examples are the women’s rights movement around the world and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. To sum it up, Levy’s text is exclusively about the events leading upto the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. On the other hand, Schultz’s wide scope necessitates that in his book History, the Civil Rights Movement is merely a footnote (Levy).
Another major difference between the two texts is the format that the writers choose to present their texts. Levy’s The Civil Rights Movement is in many respects biographical. It interestingly features a list of twenty important contributors in the Civil Rights Movement. They range from Martin Luther King Jr. to Rosa Parks. This clearly shows that according to Levy, the events cannot be separated from those who inspired them. This also lends a personal and intimate touch to the book. As a reader, one is curious to know more about the leaders and perhaps try to understand the source of their moral authority and firm principles better. After all, according to the writer, the history would matter less unless there were people involved who put their lives on the line for future generations (Levy).
Schultz, on the other hand, does not dwell a lot on the sentimentality that comes with the biographical genre. One could argue that because he is writing on such a huge scope, he could not afford to give each important character considerable mention lest the text is too bloated. This is also demonstrated in the depth of his text. His text is, as a result, fact-based throughout and presents information in a sought of detached manner. The connection between events might lack the binding ties that are brought in by the biographical and narrative approach (Schultz).
The third major difference between the two texts is the intimacy which the writer forms with the reader through the text. Schultz work features such segments as ‘What Do You Think?”, “What Else Was Happening?” and “The Reasons Why.” These are important in terms of encouraging interactivity with the reader. The reason why the writer has chosen this appproach is because his text merely lists important figures, events, and places in history. Because of the scope, he cannot afford to interpret every single event for the reader in the interests of space. To justify himself, he invites the readers to make those judgments for themselves. This is a clever approach because sometimes opinions on sensitive historical events differ and imposing one view can distract from the main purpose which is to inform. By merely stating facts, the writer is able to stick to the important things and avoid wading into the murky waters that open the text to multiple interpretations or biases (Schultz).
On the other hand, Levy prefers to communicate with his readers through the narrative form. By giving face to and allowing the readers to know the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in person, through telling their personal stories, the writer is able to forge a form of intimacy with the reader. The danger of using the biographical form is that it tends to distract from the events as one is immersed in the lives of people behind the events instead (Levy).
In the comparative review between the two books, it is easy to focus on the differences in the text and entirely forget the similarities. A reviewer may be tempted to elevate one writer above the other. However, this is more an exercise to understand how their different approaches have helped them put their message across more effectively. In this spirit, there are points of similarities between the two texts.
One of these points of concision is the order of events. Generally, Levy prefers chronological order. Levy starts all the way from the Emancipation Proclamation up to the assassination of Malcolm X. This order is important because it gives the readers a blow by blow account of how the fight for race relations was waged every step of the way. In other words, the reader received the chance to relive history (Levy).