Today on Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog, notes on “Whatever It Takes,” plus a Q&A with me and Geoffrey Canada.
When I saw this summer that Tough had written a book about Canada, my radar screen lit up like the Fourth of July. And the book, Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, turns out to be excellent: a well-told distillation of a very complex story, and an admiring but level-headed profile of a remarkable man. Canada’s project, the Harlem Children’s Zone, is an incredibly ambitious attempt to make sure that no child really is left behind in the 97-block neighborhood it serves, working with everyone from expectant parents to hard-to-steer adolescents to foster an entire culture that supports the basic task of educating poor kids and breaking the cycle of generational poverty. As the book shows, the project has had some remarkable successes in its first few years, but they haven’t been uniform or easy.