A Choice of Weapons Critical Essays

Gordon Parks Sr.


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

A Choice of Weapons is a remarkable work that is appropriate for young adult readers for several reasons. The book is extremely well written and stylistically very appropriate for a broad young adult audience. Aside from a prologue and a few flashbacks in the first two chapters, Parks’s narration is strictly chronological. The sentences are varied enough to be satisfying but are relatively simple and readable. The chapters are short and, for the most part, self-contained. Parks describes many events in the book, and at times the pace is frenetic; detailed description and analysis are kept to a minimum. Specialized knowledge of the period or locale, however, is unnecessary for appreciating this autobiography.

A Choice of Weapons also provides the young adult reader with an excellent documentary history of an important period in American history. The work spans the years from 1928 to 1943, providing the reader with an African American’s perspective on the 1920’s, on the stock market crash, on the Great Depression, on the New Deal programs (Parks’s accounts of African Americans in the CCC, the WPA, and the FSA are fascinating), and on the segregated military in World War II. Rarely is such a perspective available. Parks also presents an unusual perspective because of his travels. Initially, he includes much about African-American experiences in border states (on the border between the North and the South) in the early twentieth...

(The entire section is 508 words.)