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Colored People (Vintage) [Kindle Edition]

Henry Louis Gates Jr
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $10.44
You Save: $4.56 (30%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From an American Book Award-winning author comes a pungent and poignant masterpiece of recollection that ushers readers into a now-vanished "colored" world and extends and deepens our sense of African-American history, even as it entrances us with its bravura storytelling.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a warm, gracefully written, moving autobiographical reminiscence, Gates, chairman of Harvard's Afro-American Studies department, recalls growing up in the 1950s and '60s in Piedmont, W.Va., an immigrant working-class town where the only work available to blacks at the local paper mill was loading trucks. Devastated at age 12 by the onset of his mother's depressive disorder, Gates joined a Baptist church and desperately pursued a "restrictive fundamentalism." While avidly embracing "black power" in the mid-1960s, he yearned for approval from his father, who was "hard on colored people." This engrossing narrative of Gates's intellectual, political, sexual and emotional awakening is studded with memorable incidents such as his discovery that his mother, years before he was born in 1950, led a pioneering civil rights march. 40,000 first printing; BOMC and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The man touted as America's most celebrated black scholar reminisces to his daughters about his boyhood in the polluted, dying Allegheny Mountains' papermill town of Piedmont, West Virginia. Laying out the social and emotional topography of a world shifting from segregation to integration and from colored to Negro to black, Gates evokes a bygone time and place as he moves from his birth in 1949 to 1969, when he goes off to Yale University after a year at West Virginia's Potomac State College. His pensive and sometimes wistful narrative brims with the mysteries and pangs and lifelong aches of growing up, from his encounters with sexuality, to the discovery of intellectual exhilaration as he is marked to excel in school, to his suffering a crippling injury to one of his legs and struggling frightfully for his father's respect. There is much to recommend this book as a story of boyhood, family, segregation, the pre-Civil Rights era, and the era when Civil Rights filtered down from television to local reality. Highly recommended.
--Thomas J. Davis, SUNY at Buffalo
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 302 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 067973919X
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (July 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055PI72S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,787 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and funny and haunting and serious. May 25, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
So removed from my own experience but a story told with such grace, it will always be one of my favorite books. I read it when it was published some time ago and have not forgotten the real sense of place and people. As a white female wasp from New England, I'm not sure I understand why it affected me so. Lost communities that we gave up in the name of something else. On the one hand, it made me think there will always be a separateness and, on the other hand, that we all want the kind of community and gentle exchange that seemed at the heart of the people in this book. The use of the language is admirable - the writing - but it was what I took away about my own very different life that made the book memorable. It's a scholarly work in its way but simple, clear and classic.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gone Community July 9, 2000
Format:Paperback
Personally, I had a heckuva time keeping track of all the various Gates and Coleman relatives, so I gave up after the first forty pages or so and just appreciated this memoir for what it is -- the story of a community that no longer exists but will be alive for generations through Gates' evocation of it for his children and, vicariously, the readers of this book. As a white age contemporary of Gates, I was impressed by the evenhandedness with which he tells the story of the often grudging desegregation of the late 50s and 60s in West Virginia, and surprised by the extent of black/white interaction -- sometimes positive for Gates -- in this small town, even in the days of segregation. That is obviously a function of small town life, but it struck me as more than in many parts of US life today, leading to the question I wondered about throughout this book -- whether 46 years after Brown vs. Board of Education we are more, not less, isolated by color in our social interactions in the United States. If so, that's a tragedy for all of us.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, yet thougt provoking! April 16, 1999
Format:Paperback
This memoir had me laughing throughout, but it was also though provoking. The descriptions were so vivid, you believed you are right there in that little town witnessing Mr. Gates live and the lives of his family. I gave the book to my mother and she loved it also. Coming from a small town in Arkansas, there were alot of similarites. This book was a departure from his normal intellectual writings but no less educational.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Being Henry Louis Gates Jr. June 9, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a great book. No doubt about it. For those who only know Skip Gates from his combatative role in the PBS "Wonders of Africa" series, this book will be a revelation. As a memoir of a young man growing up Black in the segregated south, there are some wonderful epiphanies for people who did not have that experience. As a peice of literary writing, it's a wonderful example of craft and spirit and talent.
I don't always agree with the way in which Prof. Gates places himself in the politics of academia or the pronouncements he sometimes makes about being of color in these United States, but he sure tells a good story. Through sharing his early years, some of the complexities of the man are made understandable. I leave it to others to decide exactly what that means.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent memoir - a necessary read! November 7, 2005
Format:Paperback
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is an extraordinary scholar, particularly on African-American issues. He was born and raised in Piedmont, West Virginia during the time of early racial desegregation and, as a black man, was directly influenced by this dramatically historical period. Gates graduated summa cum laude from Yale University with a degree in history, then received a Ph.D. in English from Cambridge.

He has written for The New Yorker, The Village Voice, Time, The New Republic, and other prominent magazines. In addition to Colored People: A Memoir, Gates has authored and co-authored several books including Figures in Black: Works, Signs, and the "Racial" Self (1987), The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (1988), and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (1997).

The preface to Colored People is a letter from Gates to his daughters, Maggie and Liza and, though the book is dedicated to his father Henry Louis Gates, Sr. and in memory of his mother Pauline Augusta Coleman Gates, the entire autobiography is written in conversational tone, as if Gates were recounting his stories not only to his daughters, but to their entire generation.

Gates' collection of memories describes the era, long since past (both for good and for bad) when blacks and whites were segregated, and the subsequent integration of these colors, and what it was like to live in that world, and be a part of it's evolution. The title Colored People is beautifully appropriate, not only for the shades of black America it represents, but for each and every one of us; black, white, red, yellow: none of us are see-through.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. invites us to live with him in Piedmont, West Virginia, and experience life-black life-through his eyes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I admit, I only bought this book to make a political statement in support of Professor Gates after the incident with Cambridge Police last summer (and I bought it half price at a used book store because I didn't need to make that much of a statement). I hoped for a well-told memoir with insight into the life of someone who grew up in a much different way than I did, and Professor Gates really delivered. This book focuses on the author's childhood, from the early days absorbing the details of his extended family and tight African American community within a small town in West Virginia. The book also follows his journey through recently desegregated schools, restaurants, hotels, and department stores, with a few inter-racial romantic relationships along the way to keep everything interesting, but I found the early observations much more compelling. Essentially, this is a rich and warm recollection of a childhood spent in a quirky but loving community, and although the occasionally frank sexuality will likely make some readers uncomfortable, I recommend it. Even for readers who aren't interested in making political statements.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars College Book
I bought this book for a college class. It was in great shape when I received it. However, I have not read the book yet.
Published 2 months ago by Kara
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Memoir w/ Potent Images
Certain memories stand out. Certain memories shape the kind of character you have today. Certain memories reveal the human experience. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Brenda H. Feis
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of "Colored People" by Henry Louis Gates. Rated 5 stars.
I love this book! Henry Louis Gates tells the story of his childhood and family in West Virginia. It is very humorous, and his story resonates with many young southern boys.
Published 5 months ago by Betty B. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
This book was a great tool in helping me to explain what life is like for those who are discriminated against.
Published 7 months ago by Jodi Anderson
4.0 out of 5 stars A colorful splash to the past
This book was both informative and entertaining. Piedmont was a vibrant self contained community. The residents were rich in spirit. I had fun reading the book. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dara
4.0 out of 5 stars A witty and rich description of desegregation, family, and coming of...
A person has infinite memories from their life, so when writing a memoir which ones do you include? In Henry Gates' memoir, Colored People, I thought his choices were effective but... Read more
Published 17 months ago by maddy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!!
One of the best books and has a favorite place in my library. Gates invites his readers into his beloved
town of Piedmont and introduces them to the many people he encoutered... Read more
Published on April 16, 2011 by Edwin Burnett
4.0 out of 5 stars Colored People
Colored People, a memoir by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is certainly a story worth telling. Set in the 1950s and 1960s, Gates depicts his childhood in the small town of Piedmont, West... Read more
Published on June 7, 2010 by PattyB
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Down in Piedmont - the Real-Rated Version!
Loved Mr. Gate's word choice. So prominently square, yet eloquently fashionable. Almost started this pitch off naming him Sir Gates, following the way he tells on `Colored People'... Read more
Published on December 27, 2009 by RYCJ
4.0 out of 5 stars A Letter to My Children
This book in many ways took on the flow and the cadence of a letter for his daughters Maggie and Liza. Read more
Published on October 14, 2008 by D. T. Jones
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