From Kirkus Reviews
To Ely (African-American Studies & Southern History/Yale), Amos 'n' Andy, the first radio comedy series to portray an all- black world, provides a ``small but clear window which, like all windows, reveals more and more as one draws closer to it.'' Here, Ely looks closely at the changing responses of both blacks and whites to Amos 'n' Andy and examines what they reveal about the evolution of racial attitudes during the decades from the 1920's, when the series first aired, to the 50's, when it was transplanted to network TV. Born too late to experience the phenomenon except through TV reruns in the 1950's and 60's, Ely nevertheless writes knowingly of Amos 'n' Andy, having pored over hundreds of old scripts, newspaper clippings and fan letters. He looks at its roots in the minstrel shows in which its white writers (and radio performers) Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden learned their trade, and he examines how it won the hearts of millions and created dismay and antagonism in the minds of many. Although it had a huge following among both blacks and whites, thoughtful blacks were always divided in their appraisal--some seeing it as harmful to black self-respect and poisonous to whites' perceptions of blacks, and others finding no racism in its humor. Nor were its critics consistent--some who had praised it in the 30's damned it in the 50's, and vice versa. Ely traces the history of the show and its impact on a changing society with diligence, providing an extensive paper trail for future researchers in American social history. An earnest and thoughtful contribution to the growing literature documenting the development of black consciousness in American society. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Compelling... a stunningly objective look at the history of the program and how it affected, and was affected by, the culture at large.... Remarkable.
Amos 'n' Andy was an instant success, and went on to become both a national institution and a subject of racial controversy; Mr. Ely's sensitive and scholarly work shows us why.
Engaging.... [Ely] does a brilliant job of sorting out what is in many ways a hellishly complex story.... With exemplary scholarship and well-reasoned eloquence, he advances us a long way toward understanding, while also vividly revealing some unsettling aspects of our culture that shouldn't be forgotten.
(San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
An engrossing, perhaps definitive, account of one of the most fascinating episodes in popular entertainment.
Painfully funny... ironic.
(Maureen Corrigan, "Fresh Air," National Public Radio)
--This text refers to the Paperback
See all Editorial Reviews