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Spirit of Harlem: A Portrait of America's Most Exciting Neighborhood Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (November 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385504063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385504065
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 7.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The duo responsible for Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats pay homage to a grand and quickly changing neighborhood. Local teachers, doctors, lawyers and journalists tell their own stories, as do artists, musicians, hatmakers, dry cleaners, literary agents, fencers, barbers, chess players and street vendors, illustrated by 52 on-site portraits. While the photos are largely conventional, many of the personal histories deserve their own books. Brett Cook-Dizney, a graffiti artist, briefly explains the "apprenticeship structure" of graffiti, "where someone usually shows you technique and style and then you fill in their lines for a while." Sy Oumoukoulshome, a hair braider, relates the honored place that braiders hold in her home country. "It's a tradition that some families in Senegal specialize in doing braids. They call them griots. It goes from generation to generation.... In Senegal, hair braiders have respect from people. But not in Harlem." The sequencing of stories and portraits is thoughtfully done. In one sequence, Kevin Taylor, the producer of Black Entertainment Television, precedes Robert Garland, a choreographer at Dance Theatre of Harlem, followed by Noah Stewart, who broke tradition by singing a spiritual at his Juilliard audition. He is in turn followed by Alice McClarty, a singer for the Sounds of Glory Choir, who herself precedes saxophonist Lonnie Youngblood.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Marberry visited Harlem as a young boy and became fascinated with the legendary neighborhood, a community that figures prominently in African American history and culture as the site of the renaissance that marked the growing awakening and definition of the African diaspora in the U.S. He teamed with photographer Cunningham to interview Harlem residents to get a view of the history of the neighborhood and of its present, filled with anxiety about urban decay and gentrification, and what changes may be on the horizon for this most famous of black American communities. Their subjects are a cross section of Harlemites who capture the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood: a 51-year-old real estate broker, a 45-year-old historian, ministers and activists, artists, store owners, teachers, a Japanese gospel singer, an Olympic fencer, a choreographer, and a few newcomers, part of the gentrification trends. More prominent residents include Calvin O. Butts, pastor of the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church, and Isabel Powell, Adam Clayton Powell's first wife. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on June 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
SPIRIT OF HARLEM: A Portrait of America's Most Exciting Neighborhood
by Craig Marberry and Michael Cunningham is a beautiful book filled with two page pictorial accounts of famous and not so famous people and places that make up Harlem USA. Places such as the famed Abyssinian Baptist Church, the Harlem Hospital, to the Harlem YMCA, the Dance Theatre of Harlem to Hats by Bunn. It also serves as a historical account because the author and photographer delve into the heart and soul of Harlem's past that made it the elite capital it was for African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. SPIRIT OF HARLEM opens with a foreword by Gordon Parks, which sets the tone for this collection, and is followed by the author and photographer's insight into their first glance of Harlem. This collection of narrations also provides a sequencing of accounts by current and former residents of all ages and nationalities with candid black and white photographs of the subjects highlighted. Most photographs include a building, which serves as a backdrop or a tangible item that is featured in the story that follows. The first person accounts are encouraging, heartfelt and humorous as well as dismal and oppressive.
SPIRIT OF HARLEM showcases traditional and non-traditional professions such as a former activist, an art dealer, artists, a bookstore owner, a chess player, Chief Executive Officers, a choreographer, a nun, an opera singer, a real estate broker and a social worker. Other professions include a fencer, funeral parlor owners, an Asian gospel singer, a Caucasian graphic designer, hair braiders, historians, a journalist, a literary agent, a law firm partner, medical doctors, ministers and church deacon, a photographer, a restaurant owner and spa owners, along with a myriad of other professions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cydney Rax on December 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Spirit of Harlem is a wonderful treasure of a book. Looking at the photographs and reading the interviews is like going on a journey. Your eyes take in every color and every shape; your ears take in every sound, every smell, and you can hear the people's voices, some ordinary, some famous, yet they all ring loud and rise from these pages.
I've never read anything like this book, one that forces you to laugh and cry at the same time. One that opens up your eyes to a world that you didn't really existed. It's a flavor-filled coffee table book bursting with wondrous history. And it truly embodies the human spirit as the voices of people from different races and cultures all share their common bond of living and/or working in Harlem.
The Spirit of Harlem is just that - a spirit of discovery that races through from the pages and causes you to learn things you've never heard before. Even if you've haven't been to Harlem, the book makes you proud and happy to know that such a place exists. This important and heartwarming book is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book has fascinating stories of ordinary and extraodinary people. For each person interviewed, there is a picture or 2 and a story told by that individual. The writer did an excellent job at capturing these stories in first person...i felt like I was actually sitting in front of these people and listening to them tell me about a moving incident, their childhood, reflections on life... Some of these stories made me laugh and some made me cry. It was a neat experience to "meet" all these interesting people. The photography is beautiful
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