Milton Meltzer Lyla Hoffman - Essay

Lyla Hoffman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Meltzer has made another timely contribution to the collection of nonfiction works on topics not sufficiently emphasized in schools. The Human Rights Book begins with a short …, thoughtful introduction to the subject of human rights at home and abroad. The remaining pages offer a bibliography, names and addresses of organizations working in the field, and documents issued by the United Nations and others dealing with human rights….

Meltzer describes some of the torture methods used and discusses a few of the countries with the worst records—Iran, Philippines, Argentina, South Africa, the Soviet Union and others. There is a chapter on U.S. violations of political freedom by the FBI and the CIA and about U.S. political prisoners such as the Wilmington Ten, although Meltzer does not deal with the cruel treatment (including torture by isolation and many forms of degradation) routinely accorded to thousands of ordinary prisoners in U.S. jails. He does introduce differences in conceptions of what "human rights" means, including the different perspectives of socialist and capitalist nations. And he does point out that among the worst offenders using torture throughout the world are those who are "client" nations of the U.S. and dependent upon our official assistance.

This book belongs on all high school library shelves and would be a fine gift for any thoughtful young person.

Lyla Hoffman, in her review of "The Human Rights Book," in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin (reprinted by permission of Interracial Books for Children Bulletin, 1841 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10023), Vol. 10, No. 6, 1979, p. 18.