Reading for Results - Online Practice
Topics and Paraphrasing

Copyright 2006 © Laraine Flemming.
The right to copy this material is granted exclusively to instructors and students using textbooks written by Laraine Flemming. General distribution and redistribution are strictly prohibited.


Directions: For each passage, select the correct topic and then select the statement that most accurately paraphrases the topic sentence. When you are done, hit the Submit button. You will receive a score and see explanations in boxes to the right of the choices.

Note: You may be unfamiliar with the following words. Try to use the context in which they appear to remember what they mean.
Paragraph 1:prudent: wise, sensible
vehement: emotionally forceful or powerful

Paragraph 2: civil disobedience: refusing to obey laws in an effort to bring about change
embarked: began, set off on, started
treasonous: violating the trust of one’s country
Paragraph 3: in vogue: in fashion
Paragraph 4: icons: images or symbols
Paragraph 5: stoically: without showing emotion
posthumous: after death
bolstered: supported, encouraged
Paragraph 6: castigate: punish
dictum: rule
Paragraph 8: telegenic: having an appearance considered attractive on television
retraction: statement that corrects or revises a previous comment


1. Stuart Levy, a microbiologist at the Tufts School of Medicine in Boston, is a man on a mission. The founder of a world-wide network called The Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, Levy insists that antibiotic use in the United States is dangerously out of control. According to him, "at least half of the human use of antibiotics in the United States is unnecessary." Although not all medical researchers are quite as vehement as Stuart Levy, most agree with his general point—Americans have overused antibiotics and may, in the long run, have done themselves more harm than good. In the simplest and scariest terms, at least two dozen different kinds of bacteria are now resistant to antibiotics, and some of those bacteria cause potentially life threatening diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia. In addition, the bacteria that cause typical childhood diseases such as scarlet fever and strep throat are become increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Surprisingly, the fact that bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotics used to destroy them is not news. Early researchers realized immediately that some bacteria quickly grew drug resistant. As early as 1928, the discoverer of penicillin, Alexander Fleming, noticed some bacteria were able to withstand the effects of penicillin. The problem was that nobody really cared. Drug companies were making huge profits from the sale of antibiotics, and the public happily assumed that if bacteria became resistant to the current crop of drugs, someone would come along to invent new and more powerful ones. Although several drug companies have begun to work on a new more potent class of antibiotics, no one is really sure that they will be successful. For now at least, scientists like Levy can only caution the public to use antibiotics with care. In other words, if you have a cold, reach for an aspirin. Don’t take antibiotics unless you absolutely need them.
Topic:
a. Penicillin

b. The discovery of antibiotics
c. The excessive use of antibiotics

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. Most researchers believe that Americans’ excessive use of antibiotics will have unexpected and unwanted consequences.

b. Most researchers believe that Americans’ excessive use of antibiotics has caused a terrible tragedy that will haunt future generations.

2. 2. Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi believed strongly in the principle of non-violence—and refused to be shaken in his belief, even when he had to pay dearly for it. In 1922, Gandhi was so powerful that the British government, who ruled India at the time, was afraid to touch him. The British only got their chance to attack when some of Gandhi’s followers killed several British officials in a remote village. Gandhi was so appalled by the violence he called off the program of national civil disobedience that had helped sweep him into power in the first place. Gandhi’s decision was wildly unpopular and severely diminished his authority. Seizing the moment, the British government quickly put the Indian leader on trial. He was found guilty of writing treasonous newspaper articles that challenged the right of the British to rule in India. Sentenced to a long prison term, Gandhi was only set free when he fell ill with acute appendicitis. British officials weren’t being merciful. They were terrified that Gandhi might die in prison and become a martyr to the cause of Indian independence. After his release, Gandhi did not retire to his home to live quietly. He took up the weapons of non-violence and embarked on a 21-day fast for peace. By the end of his fast, he was more powerful than ever.
Topic:
a. The life of Mahatma Gandhi

b. The Indian fight for independence from Britain
c. Mahatma Gandhi’s belief in non-violence

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. The British rule in India was both harsh and cruel; thus it’s no wonder that men like Mahatma Gandhi were willing to fight for independence no matter how long the battle lasted.

b. Although he suffered for it, Mahatma Gandhi was unwilling to waver in his belief that the fight for Indian independence had to be non-violent.

3. Next to salsa, swing dancing is probably the hottest dance craze around, but swing music is hardly new. Swing emerged in the thirties and was largely the creation of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, a band leader who liked arrangements with a push and pull beat that gave swing its distinctive sound. Hot on Ellington’s heels were Cabell "Cab" Calloway and William "Count" Basie, talented musicians who led two of the thirties’ most popular swing bands. While ragtime and jazz helped give records their start, it was swing that gave birth to radio. Nightly broadcasts from the Cotton Club in Harlem and Symphony Sid’s all-swing radio show were not-to-be missed events in homes across America. Swing also gave the country dance fads like the "jitterbug" and "Lindy hop." During the Depression, swing music was one of the few things that made people smile. World War II and the war effort ended swing’s popularity by taking away much of the audience and many of the players as well. But as swing dancing has become "hot" in recent years, swing music itself has regained some of its former popularity
Topic:
a. Duke Ellington

b. Swing music
c. The Lindy hop

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. World War II put an end to swing music by taking away both the audience and the musicians.

b. Swing music may be in vogue right now, but it’s been around for a long, long time.

4. It seems like everyone has a web page these days, so it should come as no surprise to discover that the Crips and the Bloods, two of the most violent youth gangs to emerge in the last twenty-five years, have their own web sites. Yet despite the threatening gun icons one has to use to navigate the gangsĀ? web sites, there are some signs that these sites may offer a more peaceful message than one might at first imagine. Both sites have three restrictions for those who log on: (1) Do not send messages that contain pornography; (2) don’t post drug recipes, and (3) don’t threaten or target enemies of opposing gangs. There are also posted messages like the one from Stanley "Tookie" Williams, who co-founded the Crips and who was executed for murder in 2005. Williams certainly does not seem to be inciting violence. Far from it, having spent much of his adult life on San Quentin’s death row, Williams’s message is a simple one. He warns potential gang members to "not follow in my footsteps." Only time will tell if these gang web sites really do signal a more peaceful era to come, but for now at least, they suggest that gang life in cyberspace will be a good deal more peaceful than the violent reality.
Topic:
a. The Crips and the Bloods

b. Gang violence
c. Web sites posted by the Crisps and Bloods

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. The web sites posted by the Crips and the Bloods do not openly incite violence, but the use of guns as icons strongly suggests that the web sites are secretly promoting violent ends.

b. So far at least, the web sites for the rival gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, suggest that the sites were not created to promote violence.

5. It took over one hundred years, but in 1999 Henry O. Flipper and his descendants finally got the justice they deserved. Flipper, who died in 1940, had been the first black graduate of West Point. Possessed of almost superhuman determination and courage, Flipper stoically withstood the "silent treatment" inflicted upon him by other West Point cadets at the academy. After graduating in 1877, Flipper took command of the all-black "Buffalo Soldier" unit in the army’s 10th cavalry. While he was in charge, money disappeared from the commissary. Flipper, despite the absence of any evidence, was blamed. Tried and acquitted, Henry Flipper was, nevertheless, given a dishonorable discharge from the army. Although that dishonorable discharge was upgraded to honorable in 1976, Flipper’s family was not satisfied. Family members continued the fight to clear his name, bolstered by historical research showing that the charges of embezzlement had been trumped up and motivated by racism. On February 19, 1999, they won their long battle when President Clinton awarded Henry Flipper a posthumous pardon.
Topic:
a. Justice for Henry Flipper

b. Racism in the military
c. Buffalo Soldiers

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. Henry Flipper is yet another example of the way racism once poisoned the American military.

b. It took almost a century, but Henry Flipper’s name was finally cleared.

6. Diet and health fads usually come and go in a year or two; however, the food fad associated with nineteenth century health guru Horace Fletcher had a considerably longer run. Between 1900 and 1910 numerous celebrities insisted that Fletcher’s advice had kept them healthy and even saved their lives. What was that advice? According to Fletcher, "Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate." Translated that means "if you don’t chew your food well, you’ll get sick." From Fletcher’s perspective, chewing well meant chewing every bite of food thirty-two times, one time for each tooth. Anything that couldn’t be chewed, like soup or milk, had to be sloshed around in the mouth for fifteen or twenty seconds. The point of all this chewing and sloshing was to give the body a chance to gain full nutritional value from everything consumed (Presumably Fletcher’s dictum did not apply to food and drink lacking in nutritional value like wine coolers or cheese doodles). Fletcherism, as it was called, seems to have been good for its creator. He lived to be seventy years old and was in good health for most of his life. Among the celebrities who followed Fletcher’s advice were the industrialist John D. Rockefeller and the novelists Upton Sinclair and Henry James.
Topic:
a. The life and times of Horace Fletcher

b. Food fads
c. Fletcherism

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. Many celebrities were taken in by the foolish advice of food faddist Horace Fletcher who insisted that every bite of food had to be chewed thirty-two times.

b. For a considerable period of time, Horace Fletcher’s theory about the relationship between chewing and health was much in vogue.

7. Some brandy lovers like their liquor flavored by a whole pear, but since you can’t squeeze a whole pear into a bottle, pear growers have had to be creative. They tie brandy bottles onto pear trees, placing each bottle over a tiny pear blossom. Inside the bottles, the blossoms grow into pears. Once the pears are fully ripe, both bottle and pear are shipped to brandy makers. They add the brandy, and presto, pear brandy is ready for the market. Surprisingly, despite the time and effort it takes to create, pear brandy isn’t remarkable for its taste. It’s value seems to lie more in its appearance than in its flavor. If nothing else, it’s a great conversation piece.
Topic:
a. Brandy making

b. Pear brandy
c. Growing pears

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. Some brandies fetch a very high price and none more so than pear brandy, which requires the combined effort of both brandy makers and pear growers.

b. To meet the demand for pear brandy, pear growers figured out a way to grow pears in bottles.

8. Most people think that television appeared on the scene long after radio. Actually, television has been around almost as long as radio—it just took a lot longer to get established. The word "television" has been in the English language since 1907 and television itself was in existence early on in the twentieth century. The early TV screen just didn’t reveal much more than shadows and silhouettes, an understandable drawback to instant popularity. It wasn’t until 1925 that a television could actually broadcast recognizable images. Then in 1927, Bell Telephone broadcast a live speech from Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. Hoover, who looked like a bulldog, wasn’t exactly telegenic, but you could see and hear him, both at the same time, and The New York Times at least was impressed: "Hoover’s Face Plainly Imaged as He Speaks in Washington" made the front page. Since most Americans in 1929 didn’t own a TV set, it wasn’t clear to most of them what the Times was so excited about. It took the 1939 World’s Fair to introduce the American public to the wonder of television. This time around, though, the Times was less enthusiastic, insisting that television would never overtake radio because Americans would never find the time to "sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen." Needless to say, the Times did not print a retraction in 1952 when the number of television sets in American homes had climbed to eighteen million, and American families were purchasing TV trays so they could watch television while they ate.
Topic:
a. The decline of radio

b. The birth of television
c. The first television broadcast

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. Somehow, The New York Times failed to see the impact that television would have on American culture

b. Television has been around much longer than most people realize; it just took a while to get established.

9. By definition, a strike is a work stoppage. It takes place when workers feel that they are being deprived of rightful wages, safe working conditions or essential benefits. Disturbing and disruptive as strikes can be, they are seldom violent, at least not in the current era. Yet in the days when unions were young, bloodshed during a strike was not unusual. In 1877, a flagman at a railroad station in Pittsburgh refused to perform a task he considered dangerous. His fellow workers backed him, and one by one, trains in Pittsburgh came to a halt. In retaliation, railroad owners called in the National Guard. The railroad workers responded by throwing rocks, and the National Guard opened fire killing twenty-four strikers. The strike spread throughout the country and when it was over, at least one hundred workers were dead. In 1886, a strike broke out among the largely black work force laboring in the sugar fields of Louisiana. By the time it was over, at least thirty people were dead or dying and hundreds were wounded. In 1892, when Henry Clay Frick, brought in the Pinkerton detective agency to subdue a strike, the Pinkertons were beaten bloody by an enraged crowd, and the state ordered out the militia to control the strikers. In 1894, the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike in Illinois. On July 6 hundreds of railroad cars were burned by strikers and once again the state militia moved in. When the strike was over, thirty-four people were dead, most of them striking workers.
Topic:
a. Violence in early labor movement strikes

b. Labor history
c. Battles between the Pinkertons and early strikers

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. In the early labor movement, bloodshed during a strike was not uncommon.

b. Henry Clay Frick’s treatment of striking workers made him a notorious figure in labor history.

10. Scientists predict that global warming, if it continues, will have dramatic effects on the world’s environment. But one effect, at least, already seems to be here. All around the world, the rocky deposits known as coral are dying, and many experts believe that global warming is the culprit. According to Thomas Goreau, president of the Coral Reef Alliance, 90 percent of the coral in Indonesia is already dead, and worse is yet to come because sea temperatures are expected to climb to record highs in the coming year. If water temperatures get too high, coral bleaches. When coral bleaches, it isn’t dead, but it’s dying, and the bleaching of color signals starvation. According to Mr. Goreau, only the central Pacific region shows no evidence of bleached coral. Sri Lanka, New Guinea and Japan are all seeing signs of massive bleaching in the coral reefs surrounding their shores. For those ready to respond with a ho-hum, consider this. Fish don’t eat coral, but they do use it for shelter. If the coral disappears, so do the fish in the area. Obviously, this is bad news for the fishing industries, the economies they support, and the consumers they supply.
Topic:
a. Coral

b. The destruction of the coral reefs
c. The Coral Reef Alliance

Paraphrase of Topic Sentence:
a. Many experts believe that global warming is the main reason why coral reefs around the world are dying.

b. Because the oceans are polluted, coral reefs around the world are dying.

Last change made to this page: 02/23/06

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