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Ratting on Russo, a novel

by Alan Venable.  2013

In the East End of Pittsburgh of the late 1950s, outcast, accordion-playing Marty falls under the spell of his eighth-grade classmate, 16-year-old Russo, a lonely, working-class, car-crazy crooner.  Deep in the post-war heart of bucolic Western Pennsylvania, what could go wrong?

Paperback, 170 pages

List price $14.95

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The Room

by John M. Brewer.  

The concussions and delirium began in high school. How many traumatic injuries would it take before a few players rebelled against a celebrated, “winning” coach?  This is the hard but triumphant story of a proud African-American family and the bond between father and son.

“The desire to win drives on strong, perhaps too strong.  The Room tells the story of the 1950s Westinghouse High School Bulldogs and their winning ways that came at any cost.  The wins were attributed in part to a fabled Room where players were forbidden to talk about what occurred.

“In this football memoir, a former player speaks out against the team’s brutal treatment of players and how he rebelled against the cruel coach.  A remarkable story of how the need to win can destroy the high school life, The Room is a fascinating read cover to cover.” –Midwest Book Review

Paperback, 128 pages

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Hope’s Kids: A Voting Rights Summer

by Alan Venable.

Spring 1965. In the wake of Selma, a bill is finally wending through Congress to end the rigged literacy tests and other devices in place since Reconstruction to keep southern blacks out of voting and government. At the same time, Dr. King’s non-violent “wild man” Hosea Williams is laying the groundwork for hundreds of students to canvass the south in a summer voting rights project called SCOPE. Two dozen sign up at Brandeis, a vibrant young Boston area college, to work in South Carolina.

Late June. The Voting Rights Bill still hung up in Congress, the Brandeis SCOPErs arrive in urban Richland County, soon spreading out to hinterlands in adjoining Kershaw and Calhoun Counties. There they confront a powerful mix of intimidation, persisting sanctioned segregation and astonishing poverty. Sheltered in black homes, they place themselves in the service of local leaders in a century’s struggle for equal rights. To the kids from Boston, it’s scary, frustrating, surprising, inspiring, complex, and rich in lessons on life.

The author was a member of this project.  The book is based solidly on diaries and letters from the SCOPE kids that summer, plus historical research and interviews with people of the communities in which they worked.

Paperback, 218 pages, many maps & photos, indexed

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Mississippi & After: A Life in Equal Justice Law

by Gil Venable.

If you’re a student or a lawyer looking to make a difference, you’ll be inspired by this very personal memoir of an intense summer 1965 as a first-year law student doing civil rights legal work with a team of lawyers based in  Jackson Mississippi.  After graduating first in his class at Pitt law school in 1967 and clerking for federal Justice William H. Hastie, Gil dedicated his life to legal advocacy in civil, children’s and Native American rights, environmental defense and other public interest practice, with the Children’s Defense Fund, the Pittsburgh ACLU and many organizations in Arizona.

“A compelling account of many battles against the discrimination and injustices suffered by Blacks, Hispanics, disabled children, immigrants and indigenous peoples under the heavy hands of the institutions of white power. …a new call to action for law students and others willing to enlist in the struggle.” — Kerry Gough, attorney and author of Dear Jeff, a memoir of cross racial adoption and fighting discrimination from Monterey to Mississippi

 Part tales from the 1965 Mississippi voting rights battle, part rich family history, part primer on the law of voting, equal protection for the disabled and criminal justice…. information and inspiration.  His fight goes on.”  — Terry Goddard, former Mayor of Phoenix and former Attorney General of Arizona

 “Now more than ever, our nation needs lawyers devoted to social justice.  Gil Venable’s gripping memoir shows how his early engagement in the civil rights movement forged a lifelong commitment to that struggle and those of other victims of injustice. It should be read by every law student and anyone thinking about a legal career. Gil’s life will inspire them.” — Richard Abel, Connell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA

Paperback, 179 pages, map, numerous photos, indexed

List Price $14.95

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