Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

A well-known educational scholar and a prolific author of social science studies, Leonard S. Kenworthy presents in Twelve Citizens of the World: A Book of Biographies twelve biographies of his candidates for honorary world citizenship. The book’s organization is haphazard in the sense that Kenworthy’s subjects are not arranged chronologically, by nationalities, or by gender. Unification is achieved by the common thread that makes each individual noteworthy: his or her lengthy and unstinting dedication to lessening violence and alleviating human suffering. A brief author’s introduction, written toward the close of World War II, establishes this criterion as the overview of these highly idealistic portraits. While there are no bibliographical aids and no index, William Sharp’s twelve black-and-white illustrations of the twelve “citizens” (at the opening of each chapter) are splendid and dramatic.

Although each biography begins with a notable episode—the one on Ralph Bunche, for example, starts with the author interviewing him, and Gandhi’s begins with Gandhi’s assassination—each one then quickly switches back to a relevant chronological narration of the individual’s career. Kenworthy was obviously eager that his selections embrace as many important nationalities as possible in order to emphasize the international character of his subjects’ contributions to humanity. Only two, Ralph Bunche and Eleanor Roosevelt, are...

(The entire section is 412 words.)