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The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York's Most Famous Neighborhood, from the Renaissance Years to the 21st Century Paperback – May 13, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Boyd, national editor at The Black World Today and history professor at the College of New Rochelle, has assembled a memorable "mosaic of impressions," as he states in the introduction, of "personal experiences, organizations, institutions, and the dramatic moments that are at the core of Harlem's ever-evolving history." Drawing on a wealth of works from short story writers, song composers, essayists, poets and activists, Boyd charts Harlem's history chronologically-from notes Alexander Hamilton made circa 1802 about his "Home on the Grange" in what was then rural Manhattan, to a short series of interviews Boyd conducted with contemporary Harlem leaders. Boyd ably combines jeremiads and odes. Among the former are James Baldwin's "Fifth Avenue Uptown: A Letter from Harlem," in which he describes a housing project that "hangs over the avenue like a monument to the folly, and the cowardice, of good intentions." Malcolm X denounces police brutality "when Brother Hinton was attacked with night sticks," which cracked open his scalp. Ann Petry praises the respite the Junto Bar and Grill provided for the "young women coming home from work-dirty, tired, depressed," and Mayo Angelou cheers Fidel Castro, who stayed in Harlem's Theresa Hotel, while Sonia Sanchez evokes the days when she was one of the homegirls "who smiled and danced and kept our dresses down because everybody knew we were going to make something of our lives." An insightful book that will undoubtedly find a place in many classrooms, it provides a textured overview of one of the world's most famous neighborhoods.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Harlem, the symbolic capital of black America, engenders many complex and sometimes contradictory images. From the black literary and cultural renaissance of the 1920s to the upper-middle-class enclave of Sugar Hill, where the likes of Duke Ellington and W. E. B. Dubois lived, this Harlem produced Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, and Claude McKay. But there was a political Harlem of Adam Clayton Powell Jr and Percy Sutton; a militant Harlem of Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey; and a tragic Harlem, where junkies live only for the next drug fix. Boyd skillfully blends these perspectives with numerous others in a collection of fiction and essays by noted as well as lesser-known writers into a coherent whole that reflects upon the dramatic forces and players helping to shape Harlem and its centrality in America's culture and consciousness. From the renaissance to its fall from grace, Harlem has reflected crosscurrents in American culture. This anthology will draw readers interested in Harlem's past and concerns about its future as it is revitalized and gentrified. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
This book stirs the soul and heightens one's perspective concerning the various viewpoints from a variety of authors. The contribution of their writings from essays to short stories for inclusion in the book is very enlightening and educational.
Harlem is not only touched upon during the Harlem Renaissance years; the writings also touched upon the present and anticipated future activities in Harlem. It shows the current state of economic development and the mistreatment of those who are not financially wealthy, or in the upper income class. It also highlights the lives of those who are financially wealthy.
The writings of great writers such as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois, Weldon Johnson, and Claude McKay will touch the soul. Also included are national liberators such as Marcus Garvey, Rev. Al Sharpton, Malcolm X, Reverend Adam Clayton Powell and others, just to name a few.
The essence of this book is straight from the heart of Harlem. It was a pleasure for me to learn from its golden pages. This book is truly educational and inspirational. Herb Boyd has highlighted the soul of Harlem in an uplifting manner for all to learn about and enjoy.
Recommended Reading: A Trilogy of Poetry, Prose and Thoughts for the Mind, Body and Soul, and Trilogy Moments for the Mind, Body and Soul