Ralph J. Bunche Analysis
by J. Alvin Kugelmass

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Ralph J. Bunche Analysis

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Kugelmass has written an easy-to-read biographical account in which Bunche is presented as the typical hard worker whose persistence and dedication bring him success. The emphasis from beginning to end is on the positive aspects of Bunche’s personality. Indeed, he is portrayed as an individual with virtually no personal faults, even though the reader sees no appreciation expressed for the sacrifices made by his family or by his wife and children as they dedicate their energies and finances to his career success.

Like most successful people, Bunche is described as being a model for others to emulate. He studied hard, played fairly, solved problems in a practical manner, and maintained the respect and friendship of his peers as he steadily moved from one successful task to the next. Kugelmass points out several times that Bunche’s ability to see both myriad details and the complete overall picture was one of his greatest strengths. This talent is certainly worthy of emulation by the young reader.

In this account, Bunche is portrayed as having multiple interests and an inveterate appetite for new knowledge and experiences. This lust for adventure, combined with a fortunate set of circumstances that made the opportunity to pursue it available and a constitution that allowed work over long periods of time, produced extraordinary results that the average reader might never expect to attain.

The writing itself is typical of most series or formula biographies. The sentence structure is straightforward and not very involved. The vocabulary is simple enough for the average reader, and the story line is presented in a simple beginning, middle, and end arrangement. Instead of using direct quotations, which would have been available at the time of publication, Kugelmass frequently fictionalizes the text by including statements that might have been made. No bibliography is listed, and there is no mention of resources, not even the title of the book published as a result of Bunche’s work with Myrdal. While there are general descriptions of experiences and activities, the story line rarely elaborates or includes details that might strain the attention span of the young reader looking for a book to read quickly.

There are no illustrations in this book, except for one charcoal portrait in the frontispiece. Because Bunche dealt with so many well-known persons and is not as well known himself, a section of photographs would certainly have enhanced the work. The index is quite complete and easy to use. It would have been beneficial, however, to include a time line of relevant world events, as they are important to the success of Bunche and because it is often difficult for young readers to keep a time frame in mind without multiple references. All these factors make the book easily digested by the average young reader, although it does not serve the needs of a serious researcher.