"Personal inclination made me a historian. Personal encounter with public policy made me an activist."
Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability
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Paul K. Longmore
Honorable Mention in the category of Disability Rights, Gustavus Myers Book Award, 2004
Paul Longmore was selected by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to receive The Henry B. Betts Award, 2004
This wide-ranging book shows why Paul Longmore is one of the most respected figures in disability studies today. Understanding disability as a major variety of human experience, he urges us to establish it as a category of social, political, and historical analysis in much the same way that race, gender, and class already have been. The essays here search for the often hidden pattern of systemic prejudice and probe into the institutionalized discrimination that affects the one in five Americans with disabilities.
Whether writing about the social critic Randolph Bourne, contemporary political activists, or media representations of people with disabilities, Longmore demonstrates that the search for heroes is a key part of the continuing struggle of disabled people to gain a voice and to shape their destinies. His essays on bioethics and public policy examine the conflict of agendas between disability rights activists and non-disabled policy makers, healthcare professionals, euthanasia advocates, and corporate medical bureaucracies. The title essay, which concludes the book, demonstrates the necessity of activism for any disabled person who wants access to the American dream.
"Paul Longmore is simply the best historian now writing about disabilities. This volume collects a series of major essays that have shaped the academic and public discourse about disabilities inside of and beyond the university. From the unwritten history of disabled people to questions of assisted suicide, and the public face of disability culture, Longmore writes intelligently, compassionately, and readably. Read these essays and learn!"
"Longmore offers poignant observations about images of disability in American culture....A major strength of Longmore's essays is calling our attention to historical antecedents, so that current disability issues can be put in the context of developments in society and technology."
"[A] fine introduction to the contemporary study of disability."
"Longmore's newest work provides an engaging discussion of some of the major issues and concerns within the disability community as well as a scholarly review of the major events in disability history.... The book provides an in-depth accounting of disability rights history, scholarship, activism, and advocacy. It is lively and very accessible and is an important contribution to the files of disability studies, as well as broadening and deepening our national understanding of the complexity of our history, one the author's stated goals."
"Why I Burned My Book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the history and the current issues of disability."
"Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability is a collection of some of his best writing on both history and policy. The combination of scholarship and activism displayed in this book is exciting."
"The strength of Longmore's work [is] in remembering the ongoing marginalization of millions[.] Longmore challenges and disrupts dominant ideologies of 'normality' and disability. Furthermore, he offers an alternative in writing the study of disability as social history.... Longmore's text is a worthy read for its intellectual sensibility."
"As is evident from the issues they raise, both [The Difference That Disability Makes and Why I Burned My Book] take a more provocative stance regarding disabilityone that is vastly different from how disability has been traditionally discussed in educational contexts.... Together both books can provide a beginning toolbox to challenge educators and researchers to take another look at our practices and assumptions about disability."
Also available in e-book
Foreword Robert Dawidoff
Part I: Analyses and Reconstructions
Part II: Images and Reflections
Part III: Ethics and Advocacy
Part IV: Protests and Forecasts
In the series
American Subjects, edited by Robert Dawidoff.
The American Subjects series, edited by Robert Dawidoff, will introduce readers to unfamiliar areas or figures in American culture. All of the titles in this series will be the first on their particular subject. Each will tell an unfamiliar story and will emphasize the cultural side of how Americans have lived and what they have created or thought.