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Born to Be (Blacks in the American West) Paperback – October 1, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Taylor Gordon somehow got himself on paper, lanky six-feet, falsetto voice, molasses laugh, and all the rest of him, including a brain that functions and an eye that can see. The result is probably a ‘human document’ of the first order, to be studied by sociologists and Freudians for years to come. . . . [And] it is an extremely amusing book.”—Carl Van Vechten in his foreword
(Carl Van Vechten)

About the Author

Thadious M. Davis is a professor of English at Brown University and the author of Nella Larson: Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance: A Woman’s Life Unveiled.
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Product Details

  • Series: Blacks in the American West
  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Bison Books (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803270526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803270527
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scott A. Thompson on May 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
With the rise of multiculturalism in high schools and colleges in recent decades and the introduction of academic programs in African-American Studies, a good many works from the Harlem Renaissance period have been rediscovered with great enthusiasm. Nella Larsen's Passing (1929), Jean Toomer's Cane (1923), Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), and the poetry and fiction of Langston Hughes, for example, are now unquestionably canonical, and other writers, including Claude McKay, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and George Schuyler, are widely read and taught.

However, there are still a few sharp needles to be found even in this well-searched haystack, and Born To Be is one of those. An autobiography of Taylor Gordon, who achieved significant success in the U.S. and in Europe in the 1920's as a singer of African-American spirituals, the book describes Gordon's beginnings as the youngest son of the only black family in White Sulfur Springs, Montana, to which unlikely spot his parents had moved because of his father's job as chef for a gold mining company. It proceeds through Gordon's youthful jobs as messenger for the town's brothels, pin setter in a bowling alley, and preparer of opium in the town's Chinese opium den, before Gordon leaves home to become a chauffeur, Pullman porter, auto mechanic, and chef in the personal train cars of John Ringling (of circus fame).
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