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May 15, 2013 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Black History Nonfiction
With scholarly acumen and commanding storytelling, the best black-history nonfiction books of the last dozen months reclaim neglected yet essential facets of history, from the full story of Harlem to the secret world of the chitlin’ circuit to the lives of a seminal religious thinker and a groundbreaking blues musician. —Donna Seaman
Barack Obama in Hawaii and Indonesia: The Making of a Global President. By Dinesh Sharma. Praeger, $48 (9780313385339).
Cultural anthropologist Sharma argues compellingly that Obama’s exposure to different races, cultures, languages, and religions, along with his landmark election, makes him a transformative global figure.
The Chitlin’ Circuit and the Road to Rock ’n’ Roll. By Preston Lauterbach. Norton, $26.95 (9780393076523).
In this terrific popular history, music journalist Lauterbach resurrects a thriving African American subculture that nurtured rock ’n’ roll, vividly portraying the famous (B. B. King, Little Richard) and the unsung.
Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock. By David Margolick. Yale, $26 (9780300141931).
Margolick tells the complex stories of two civil rights icons: African American Elizabeth Eckford, who braved white hecklers to attend a newly desegregated high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957, and Hazel Bryan, then an angry young white tormentor.
Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America. By Jonathan Gill. Grove, $29.95 (9780802119100).
Gill offers a vibrantly detailed and biographically oriented account of the rich 400-year history of Harlem, from Henry Hudson’s encounter with the island of Manahatta to the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.
I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy. By Bob Riesman. Univ. of Chicago, $27.50 (9780226717456).
Riesman’s lively and knowledgeable biography of legendary bluesman and mentor Big Bill Broonzy encompasses the history of the northern migration of African Americans and the flowering of Chicago blues and its profound global influence.
Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption—from South Central to Hollywood. By Ice-T and Douglas Century. One World, $25 (9780345523280).
Famous first as a rapper and then as a movie and television actor, Ice-T, orphaned young and embroiled in gang life even as his artistic abilities evolved, recounts his down-and-up life in this fascinating and inspiring memoir.
My Long Trip Home. By Mark Whitaker. Simon & Schuster, $25.99 (9781451627541).
As the son of a black father and white mother, NBC bureau chief Whitaker presents a deeply moving history of family relations and racial identity.
News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. By Juan González and Joseph Torres. Verso, $29.95 (9781844676873).
In their fresh history of American journalism, González and Torres uncover the little-known roles of journalists of color in creating an alternative press that challenged the mainstream press and its business and political alignments.
Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America. By Cameron McWhirter. Holt/John Macrae, $32.50 (9780805089066).
In this riveting account of the summer that transformed American race relations, McWhirter chronicles the lynchings and deadly riots that erupted in 1919 as returning black WWI GIs bridled against discrimination, and racial justice campaigns coalesced.
Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman’s Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence. By Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt. Beacon, $34.95 (9780807000458).
Dixie and Eisenstadt portray wrongfully overlooked Howard Thurman, an important African American religious thinker, early advocate of Christian nonviolence, founder of one of America’s first interracial congregations, and a crucial influence on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.