This book was an interesting read although I do wish it could help people deal with being pressured more than the ones that are absolute failures that are on the way to self-ruin. Given that people who are likely to read this book probably care more about informing themselves then being the baddest dude in town, I think that would be more helpful. Still, there were some interesting reads about statistics with absentee fathers and the reading could be entertaining. I do think that Cosby puts in too much faith in education and religion though. However, the religion he mentions is more of a social system than a belief (he does even mention those slave masters who used the Bible to justify slavery so I can find his reference forgivable), as in people going together to Church for example.
The problem I find with the education is that the job market is bad (I couldn't find work offline and I graduated as a Philosophy Major in Fall 2008) and that a lot of educated people can say a bunch of stupid things and wreck their lives; I'm tired of the stereotype that only poor black youths are the ones who do drugs and have irresponsible sex lives.
There also is the concept that education is only good so long as it leads to a trade; a doctor or lawyer will make a whole lot more money than I do, even if their procedures (harmful prescription drugs and defend rich, guilty people) screw over society.
The whole concept as education and status (money) equal success is completely absurd. It really should be how people represent themselves and what they do in the tough moral situations, such as being subjected to blatant ignorance (feeling dumbfounded that a person could say something so stupid that it makes you want to slap some sense in them) and not losing your cool or having to let go of someone who wants to ruin their lives with poor choices although you did your job, which is to inform them. Scolding such a person provides nothing, and you're going to have to live with peoples' irrational logic whether you like it or not. You're just going to have to hope it's at a level that doesn't drag down your well-being. For more on the flaws of education, this link is a good one: http://www.naturalnews.com/023215.html
The reason I say education is very flawed is because it is generally very trivial; I took a whole bunch of science, history, math, and other classes that I never really needed in my life. Sure it's nice to know basic math that you can use if you're a cashier, but most of that stuff is just memorization drills. To say that someone knows a procedure is gifted in the course of life is a very ignorant statement; they know the right people (unequal school system plus cliques can pressure/bully you if you're on the outside and forced to give in homework assignments just to fit in until they dispose of you), and have luck since they're able to get jobs by this same nepotism.
That experience stereotype is nonsense too, having to know a great deal on a resume, allthewhile ignoring any sort of learning curve from any trial (which is exactly why I do not get hired; everyone wants experience, which I lack from never having a job, that keeps me out of the mix of that self-fulfilling prophecy). If you still do not believe me regarding education not being the cure for idiocy, check out the American government's history and how they make history class a crappy game of remembering dates, than things that can correlate to your personal life, such as job discrimination or a system in high school that can get you to figure out your major in college a lot faster. But given the priority of money rather than life values, this will not happen soon. Then of course, telling the truth undermines those in power, so the government will stay in control, having people play race or gender politics to smokescreen actual issues. Voting isn't going to solve anything as well, thanks to those lobbyists and ignorant yet educated people (can read but cannot think objectively yet autonomously ie: develop thought experiments via logic) who outnumber you.
Fortunately, the book is well-written (doesn't feel boring to read) and it does have advice on parenting which I do agree with. There should be a parenting course in high school, given the social issue of teen pregnancy. I also agree with Cosby on the fact that the personal responsibility will lower the chances of a disruptive life; there is racism, but we should never be the ones who make the racists correct, especially by disproportion: blacks being a minority/token in so many things yet 44% of the prison population. That's insane.
Another thing I disagree with Cosby is the idea of violence in the media corrupting our youth. If we use it responsibly, violence can actually be beneficial. If you keep it solely in video games or other works of fiction, or if you absolutely need it in real life, restrict it to any ring (boxing, mixed martial arts, etc. can even lead to a career as an athlete or instructor), it can lead to a decent life as a way of stress removal or avoiding worse people. I also think that a lot of stories, which do use violence, are very well written. Comic books can be very interesting to read. I am glad I found comics and mangas (Japanese comics, many can be read online for free in English) to read because the dialogue can be very interesting, the characters are superior to those in real life (not self-destructive, hypocritical, and self-righteous with their ignorance) even the bad guys. Some examples can be Spider-Man, Black Jack, Major, Kaiji, and others.
Another interesting thing is when you read fan-subbed Japanese anime, it also counts as reading too, and is much better than reading those boring books that no one young cares about like Shakespeare. Also, some video games I do play have an interesting story, which means I can read that too, such as the strategy rpg Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and adventure games such as Nancy Drew: The Deadly Secret of Olde World Park. To be indiscriminate of video gaming and saying that it's all bad (in terms of images for our youth) shows a blatant sign of ignorance.
Lastly, you can use fair trading card games, like Fullmetal Alchemist, or my Quickstrike Trading Card game as means of using math and probability (combining cards for combos, customizing decks, and formulating other types of strategies). We need to get people to be inspired to use their brains, rather than force them to memorize useless drills and call them a loser if they get a B- on an exam that relies solely on luck; they just memorized some things on topic that weren't on the exam. I know that feeling too well. If a kid likes sports, why not teach him or her to calculate batting average, quarterback rating, and other sports stats? Earned run average here is also complicated since a baseball pitcher has to have his or her innings pitched calculated, runs not based on errors calculated within those innings, and to put it in proportion to 9 innings. Now this is a fun way to teach: calculate the pitcher's earned run average for a game. Sadly, this will not happen because we are so focused on teaching in uninspired ways and forcing memorization over any kind of inspired learning, which will make education something to be proud of, rather than something to make one holier than thou with that office cred. If you do not believe me, take a look at the SAT exams with how they want you to memorize useless words you will never use again. I hated that exam, and I only got an 1100 on it. Doing reviews of media can be a good idea too. If I did reviews at a younger age, I'd probably be more accomplished than I am now of thinking for myself. That's the hard part of teaching; the hardest part is to teach yourself and find inspiration for yourself. It is easy to inspire others who open their ears to you and are willing to learn and second-guess you when you make mistakes. At least my progress is still good; I knew what lines not to cross when I was a kid on my own such as drug use or abusing innocent people. I think it's sad that people do not learn these things on their own, even with information.
Overall, the book is worth a decent read, although it has a couple of misses. It can be funny to think of lines such as Cosby's critique of 8 Mile, which has Eminem dissing his last opponent for having 2 parents and being named Clarence; it makes no sense how this can be bad but this is gangsta rap that Cosby criticizes. This is exactly what I meant by reading interesting media as an alternative, or even playing interesting/informative games so you do not have to subject yourself to this nonsense. I think it is better to choose isolation over assimilation when it is possible to do so.