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Discovering Black America: From the Age of Exploration to the Twenty-First Century Hardcover – September 1, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-While not intended as "an exhaustive review of African American history," this attractive volume is an epic work. Starting with the first Africans to come to the New World, Tarrant-Reid follows the history up to the election of Barack Obama. Highlights include profiles of early black explorers, a look at the roots of slavery, a fascinating account of the philosophical differences between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, and the little-known correspondences between Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Absolutely gorgeous in design, with a harmonious marriage of text and colorful archival images, this is the kind of book that invites browsing, and its extensive reach will make this a go-to title for report writers. The author stays remarkably unbiased throughout; in fact, it is this apparent strength that, at times, becomes an issue. Great nonfiction creates a relationship between young readers and subjects; a title that mines similar territory, Kadir Nelson's award-winning Heart and Soul (HarperCollins, 2011), brings African American history to life through the colorful narrative of a grandmotherlike Everywoman. Tarrant-Reid's impartial tone, on the other hand, at times gives way to long sections of relatively lifeless prose. The author is an authority on African American culture, having previously written several books on the subject, but this particular title, while strong in several areas, is not without its flaws.-Sam Bloom, Groesbeck Branch Library, Cincinnati, OHα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
About the Author
Linda Tarrant-Reid has worked as a freelance journalist, writing on the history of African Americans for the New York Daily News. She is also a communications specialist for school districts and is the author of several books for adults. She lives in New Rochelle, New York.
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In 1978, we founded our parent company Abacus as a publisher of books and software. So for 35 years I've been involved with everything that accompanies the task of books - acquisition, contracts, manuscripts, editing, rewriting, printing, marketing, reviews, etc. The books that we publish are technical books: computing, electronics, aviation. While this gives me some expertise evaluating and reviewing books of this genre, I admittedly lack experience evaluating and reviewing history books.
Consequently, the mini-review that I'm about to give here is not based on my in depth knowledge of the subject matter. Rather it's based only on my personal interest in this topic. Professionally speaking I'm not qualified to comment on history - but can you cut me some slack when I describe the book's attractive layout and appearance, riveting content, easy reading, and many fine photographs and illustrations?
Discovering Black America is an in depth look at the forced settlement, migration, education, struggle, emergence and contribution of the Americans of African descent.
I was surprised to learn that as early as 1500′s many of the early explorers to America were accompanied by black sailors. I read how the slave trade was fueled by the demand of southern farmers to establish and maintain a plantation economy. I learned how our archrival, the British, schemed to free tens of thousands of slaves during the Revolutionary War.
And so the author's narrative continues methodically through the Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, the two World Wars leading up to the contentious Civil Rights movement and onto the surprising election of our first Afro-American President.
Discovering Black America is divided into eight chapters arranged chronologically. Each chapter has several sub-sections. I found the reading to be short and sweet - quite descriptive but without any fluff. I didn't have any trouble reading a few pages at one sitting and being able to easily pick up from where I left off later. The chapters are generously enhanced by attractive sidebars that provide additional interesting detail. The author somehow manages to apply a matter-of-fact voice to some very depressing and disappointing periods of American history.
Overall, the 240-page hardbound book is printed on high quality stock. The large book is handsome enough to adorn your coffee table, but you'll be much better served by reading rather than just looking at it. Oh, did I mention the fine photographs and illustrations that abound its pages?
Full disclosure: since I've been a Facebook user, I've rekindled numerous friendships from the past. One of these is with Linda Tarrant-Reid, the author of Discovering Black America. Since we both graduated from New Rochelle High School (New York) in 1967, you can judge for yourself how far back this "past" extends. Anyway I'd like to commend Linda on the fine work that she's shared through her book.
Why a review at Stay Focused? Maybe we can attribute it to editorial privilege. While "stay focused" is a term that is commonly used in photography, it is also a phrase that suggests that we don't become distracted from things that really matter. I'd like to think that understanding the black sub-culture in our country is one of those things that really matter.
For those interested, I bought my copy of Discovering Black America online from Amazon for about $21. I found the book to be well worth its price.
Title: Discovering Black America
Author: Linda Tarrant-Reid
ISBN: 9 780810 970984
Reviewed by: Arnie Lee
Thanks to Linda Tarrant-Reid for this fine book.
It was enlightening and I find myself going back to read 1 chapter at a time.
Thank you Linda Tarrant Reid!