cover image Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge

Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge

Etan Thomas with Nick Chiles, foreword by Tony Dungy. New American Library, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-451-23673-9

Thomas, a star in the NBA as a center for the Atlanta Hawks as well as a participant in President Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative, states upfront that he’s “not a fatherhood expert.” But having collected essays offering insights and experiences about fatherhood from a fascinating and diverse range of individuals—including Bill Cosby, John King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Andre Agassi, and others—Thomas has produced an insightful book that provides “a manual for fathers new and old.” Many of the pieces address the experience of fatherless kids in African-American communities. But from rapper Ice Cube to filmmaker Michael Moore, the book’s message is one of hope. As Moore states, “One of the ‘Big Lies’ that we are told in our society is that there’s something wrong with you if you come from a ‘broken home’ or a home with a single mother.” Thomas also offers a moving tribute to the many single mothers “who are forced to take on the role of the father in the household.” While Thomas’s “Tao of fatherhood” is a wonderful distillation of all the book’s insights—“Be there”— his book also contains a plethora of memorable and eloquent advice for all fathers, such as that from Dr. Cornel West: “To be a great father, you must be a militant for tenderness, an extremist for love, a fanatic for fairness, and, in the larger society, a drum major for justice.” (May)