Mahatma Kozol Takes Cash Only

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Over the email transom from George Mitchell comes a publicity item for Jonathan Kozol’s latest weeper. Here’s the part that really stood out to me:

We should let folks know there are signing restrictions for this event. Mr. Kozol will only personalize copies of Fire in the Ashes, and will only sign the most recent editions of four of his backlist titles that are purchased at the event.

What a selfless and noble tribune of generosity! What a titanic warrior against the greed of capitalism!

For my money (if Kozol will pardon the expression) nobody’s ever managed to top Tucker Carlson’s 1995 classic “Jonathan Kozol’s Crying Game.” One of the best things WS published even back in its glory days.

PS “Mahatma Kozol” courtesy of the Fordham Institute, during Kozol’s ridiculous “partial fast” in 2007. The image seems to have disappeared from Fordham’s site but it lives on at Alexander Russo’s blog.

8 Responses to Mahatma Kozol Takes Cash Only

  1. Anthony Cody says:

    This is a mean-spirited snipe. I checked with Jonathan Kozol’s assistant, and these instructions come from his publisher, who is paying for his speaking tour. He is not happy with them. But I can tell you, as someone who’s family owned a bookstore for many years, that it is common practice for authors on book tours of this sort to only sign books purchased at the events.

    I think this is a cheap shot. It indicates a discomfort with someone who speaks with a voice of conscience about the effects of poverty — somehow he must be shown to be just as moneygrubbing as the rest of us, so we can stop feeling bad about the crimes against children his work chronicles.

  2. Matthew Ladner says:

    From the Carlson article:

    Asked about the apparent discrepancy between his ideology and his affection for fancy hotel rooms, Kozol explains that he’s no hypocrite, but actually a victim of American capitalism. “You can try to make your life as austere as possible,” he says, “but there’s no way of escaping the contradictions of our society. If you’re trying to engage in the cultural and political debates that exist in America today, you have to do it on the same terms as the people on the other side of the political spectrum.”

    • Greg Forster says:


      • George Mitchell says:

        Glad you linked to the Carlson piece. I had forgotten its origin.

        Kozol’s Milwaukee appearance likely will focus on Wisconsin’s “war” on teachers, in a state where real per pupil spending is up several fold in the last 3-4 decades.

  3. I don’t have a problem with Kozol making a good living. And I appreciate Kozol highlighting the challenges of poverty and school resources. But he’s been writing the same book for three four decades now and does not acknowledge at all the huge increases in real per pupil spending, the equalization of spending, and the significant efforts to address poverty that have occurred during this time.

    Someone who makes the same diagnosis of the problem while ignoring three four decades of attempted treatment seems like someone who doesn’t really care about the disease and may care more about the attention and wealth he gets for repeating the diagnosis. That’s why Kozol is worthy of mocking and why it is reasonable to harp on the attention and money he gets for repeating the same old thing.

    For more on this see

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