Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 170,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
You must be logged in to read full text of reviews.
> Logged-in users can make lists, save searches, e-mail, and more!
> Click My Profile to create a username & password
> Try a free trial or subscribe today
February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Black History Nonfiction
Although 6 of the 10 best African American nonfiction books reviewed since the February 1, 2009, Spotlight on Black History aren’t biographies, only one may lack elements of that beloved-by-readers genre, making for a reading list, indeed.
The Dandy Dons: Bill Russell, K. C. Jones, Phil Woolpert, and One of College Basketball’s Greatest and Most Innovative Teams. By James W. Johnson. 2009. Univ. of Nebraska, paper, $19.95 (9780803218772).
Powered by Bill Russell and K. C. Jones, the 1955–56 NCAA champion University of San Francisco Dons compiled a 60-game winning streak, in the process altering basketball forever.
Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America. By Beryl Satter. 2009. Holt/Metropolitan, $28 (9780805076769).
Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll. By David Kirby. 2009. Continuum, $19.95 (9780826429650).
When Kirby hears America singing, it sounds like Little Richard. Ride along on his high-octane travelogue-cum-meditation on the Georgia Peach, and you’ll second the perception.
“A Long Time Coming”: The Inspiring, Combative 2008 Campaign and the Historic Election of Barack Obama. By Evan Thomas and the staff of Newsweek. 2009. PublicAffairs, hardcover, $22.95 (9781586486075).
Real-life stories get no more compelling than this crisply anecdotal chronicle of the campaign and election of the first African American U.S. president.
Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. By Clarence E. Walker. 2009. Univ. of Virginia, $22.95 (9780813927770); paper, $13.95 (9780813927787).
Walker views the complexities of American race relations through the prism of the contradictions between Jefferson’s writings on race and his 38-year relationship with his slave Sally Hemings.
Post Black: How a New Generation Is Redefining African American Identity. By Ytasha L. Womack. 2010. Lawrence Hill, paper, $16.95 (9781556528057).
One-size-fits-all definition of black identity is crumbling, Womack says, as burgeoning disparate constituencies (young professionals, immigrants, bi- and multiracials, etc.) impact black America.
Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne. By James Gavin. 2009. Atria, $27 (9780743271431).
Maintaining a classy image through decades of pop-music and racial-climate changes and despite personal insecurities, singer Horne is a mesmerizing icon in Gavin’s pages.
Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson. By Wil Haygood. 2009. Knopf, $27.95 (9781400044979).
Haygood compares the achievements of the all-time great boxer with those of three similarly innovative contemporaries of his: poet Langston Hughes, singer Lena Horne, and jazzman Miles Davis.
Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. By Robin D. G. Kelley. 2009. Free Press, $30 (9780684831909).
The first full biography of the pianist-composer who cocreated bebop is a landmark of jazz literature that dispels a cloud of myths as it brings Monk alive for his generations of fans.
Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington. By Robert J. Norrell. 2009. Harvard/Belknap, $35 (9780674032118).
In a more nuanced assessment of the post-Reconstruction leader long disparaged for racial accommodation, Norrell argues that Washington’s strategy was that of the fox rather than the lion.
> Try a free trial or subscribe today