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A Century and Some Change: My Life Before the President Called My Name Hardcover – January 5, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439158878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439158876
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this remarkable life story, the 107-year-old woman hailed by President Obama in his Election Night speech reflects on the times she lived through on the eve of her heath in December, 2009, with help from NPR news correspondent Bates (author of the Alex Powell mystery series). In Obama's speech, the new president remarked on a life that spanned segregation, the Civil Rights Era, and voting (electronically) for the first African-American president. Though Cooper describes that moment as "plenty exciting," her story is more than that milestone: "I had a life before CNN and the rest 'discovered' me." Though Cooper's story doesn't boast the groundbreaking events or distinctive voice of her most famous forerunners-ie, the Delany Sisters' Having Our Say-this volume will capture readers with tales of Cooper's mother, who had been taught to read by white plantation owners, and stories about her husband, who was a successful Atlanta dentist during the 1930s and '40s. A spry, inspirational figure, active and alert into her second hundred years, Cooper's world is also animated by extensive photographs that complete the feel of a particularly thorough and well-written family scrapbook that's also a testament to life well-lived in difficult times.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

At 106 years old, Cooper went to the early voting polls in Atlanta and proudly cast her vote for the first black president of the U.S.; something she didn’t think she’d live to see. On election night, President-elect Obama thanked her publicly in his acceptance speech. In this engaging memoir, Cooper recalls her life before her recent fame. She grew up in a tenant-farming family of eight children in rural Tennessee. After her mother died and the children were divided among relatives, Cooper went off to Nashville and later married a dentist and moved to Atlanta. She recalls her life of raising four children, involvement in social and civic activities, and friendships with prominent families, including that of Martin Luther King Jr. She recounts years of struggle and progress on racial issues in Atlanta and the nation, along with changes in fashion and social mores. Widowed after 45 years of marriage, she maintained an active social and family life, eventually surviving three of her four children. Photographs add to this portrait of a long and active life well lived. --Vanessa Bush

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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A very inspiring story.
Gail R. Middlebrooks
Reading the book was like sitting in her living room and listening to her life's story.
mkeillor
I was very inspired by Mrs Anne Nixon Cooper's life.
Mona Lisa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John F. Baker Jr. on December 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper's extraordinary life. The book is filled with wonderful photos of Mrs. Cooper, her family, and prominent African Americans. I first met Mrs. Cooper in 1996, when she was 94 years young through doing genealogical research for my book The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family's Journey to Freedom (also published by Atria Books). Mrs. Cooper shared information about her early years when, after the death of her parents, she had been raised by her aunt Joyce Washington Nixon who was born a slave on Wessyngton Plantation during the Civil War. Mrs. Cooper recounted many wonderful stories. I told her that a book should be written about her life, and she admitted that she had often heard that suggestion. Who knew then that a book would be written when she was 107 years old! Karen Grisby Bates did an outstanding job in telling Mrs. Cooper's story. Since I knew Mrs. Cooper personally, when I read the book it was as if I was sitting in her lovely home attentively listening to her. Although Mrs. Cooper had told me many things about her family history and early life as a youth in Nashville, there were many fascinating stories that I had never heard before. Mrs. Cooper was already a celebrity in Atlanta and in the eyes of all her family and friends who knew and loved her before November 2008 when she became a part of American history. Now thanks to this book, everyone will know what an interesting life she lived more than a century before President Barack Obama called her name.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Beldini VINE VOICE on June 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If your grandmother told you her life story, it would be this book. Interesting more becuase of the times she lived in than her actual experiences, the book is light and easy to read, but not particularly memorable. There's a sweetness to it that makes it charming, but I demand a little more from my books than surface charm. There are better biographies of people with the same experiences, and richer history in a number of other sources.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carmen Momon on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was pleasantly surprised to read the life of Ms. Cooper. In many ways, she filled in some historical gaps and made me feel as if I was there. A lot of what she experienced happened in my lifetime. What I also realized was there were many eye-witnesses into the life of MLKing, Nat King Cole and other celebreties, and gentle giants or unsung sheros who helped to shape and form the socio-economic climate for blacks in Atlanta. She lived in the locality where I lived, so her conversation was like speaking to my neighbor even though I never met her. After reading this book, I realized again that the power of "ONE" is extraordinary!

Carmen Walker (Atlanta)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jane in Atlanta on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book- I read it in 2 days. This is a fast and simple read that really sounds like it is straight from her memory. One of the best things about the book is that there are many photos also in the book- by the time I got through it, I really felt I knew a lot about her. This is not a thought provoking book- it's not a "Guns, Germs and Steel" type book- it is just what it says- a book of this fine lady's memories. Because her husband was a dentist, they lead a good life, even with the areas of discrimination that was so prevalent during her lifetime. However you can also see why she lived so long. She has such a positive, fun attitude- she truly focuses on the best life has to offer.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kathi Miller on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
No one with a heart can knock a woman who has lived to 107 years of age. That's what is most remarkable about the author's story. Her history as recalled in this book is simply told and is a tale that many Blacks(a term the author prefers to African Americans) have told- one of segregation, second class citizenry,and discrimination.
It is a quick read and includes many pictures of her life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie VINE VOICE on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was eager to read this autobiography from the moment I heard it was available. Mrs. Cooper's life is a fascinating tale, reflective of American culture and told with accessibility and charm. Her voice is evident in the telling. It feels like sitting down with grandma and hearing her stories, which are satisfying and entertaining slice of an American life.

My only criticism of the autobiography/biography is that it skims the surface of Mrs. Cooper's life and I wanted to know more about much of what she presented. My guess is that the detail simply isn't there to be shared. I would have preferred her collaborative partner fleshed out the stories with some context, maybe prodded Mrs. Cooper for more detail. It's entirely possible that this happened and that Mrs. Cooper shared everything she could remember. For readers who expect more from this book, it isn't here. For readers who expect a simple, straightforward story spanning over a century, Mrs. Cooper's book fits that expectation beautifully.

One example is that all of Mrs. Cooper's children were born in a single paragraph. This did fit with the pace and flow of the narrative but it was a point that made me wonder if there wasn't more story to be told. That said, what interested me more came a page or two later when Mrs. Cooper shared the anecdote of meeting up with a man whom she told she build a hospital where "colored" women could give birth in safety and comfort... and he built a hospital that did just that. Yet that was all of what was said about the hospital and the reason Mrs. Cooper was adamant about its conception, except that her two younger children were born there. Perhaps that's all that needed to be said, as that was the extent to which the hospital factored into Mrs. Cooper's life.
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