- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 4, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1412064988
- ISBN-13: 978-1412064989
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #891,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective Paperback – July 6, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
This book also points out some inconsistencies with a couple of other Sam Cooke bios out there. That was really great. Who would know, better than family?
This is a must for every Sam Cooke fan out there. You owe it to yourself to get an inside look, from the people who knew and loved him best.
This novel raises legitimate questions about Mr. Cooke's death that I believe ought to be looked at and it saddened me that the details of his death have just been overlooked. Like Dorothy Dandridge, he star burned so bright for such a short time and his departure was tragic. Clearly the world, especially his family, still miss him.
I purchased this book shortly after it was published and immediately started reading it with great anticipation and excitement while at the same time there was a place in my heart full of dread because I knew that with each page that I turned, I was getting closer and closer to the chapter about Sam's death.
"Our Uncle Sam" is the story of Sam Cooke as a son, father, brother, uncle, husband. It is also a story about Sam Cooke, the man. We can see how Sam lived and what were his dreams and goals and what he held most dearly to his heart. We can also understand why all his life Sam Cooke strove for his right to be the sole owner of his "Personhood" as a man and as an artist.
The author makes it easy for us to comprehend why Sam was the first Black musician to openly refuse to perform to segregated audiences, why he was the first to stop straightening his hair, and why he could no longer tolerate "blacks only" entrances/exits or "whites only" establishments. It is also not difficult to understand why Sam Cooke had to be murdered and why the so called "official version" of his murder has as much substance as a child's balloon--one tiny little prick, and Puff! no more balloon.
"Our Uncle Sam" does not answer all the questions about Sam Cooke but the ones that the author answers, he does so accurately. I think that many readers, like I did, will find out for the first time the true nature of Sam's business relationships and the details of how and by whom Sam's family and his children were swindled out of his vast business holdings.
Since Sam's death, a lot has been written and said about him. Also, a lot of inaccuracies and misinformation and fabrications and plain ignorance have been spread about him, it seems, by anybody who wished to do so. It is amazing how easy it is for anybody who is perceived to be an "authority" on something or some kind of an "official" to spread inaccurate information.
I recently heard Peter Guralnick being phone-interviewed by Tavis Smiley. Toward the end of the interview, Tavis asked Guralnick about Sam's death and Guralnick replied that Sam "was courting death" and in support of this, he proceeded to relay, inaccurately and only certain parts of, the following incident.
While touring the South, (late 50's/early 60's) Sam's car broke down and the attending policeman requested that Sam push his car out of the way. Sam refused to do so, telling the police officer that it was not his job to push the car, that he was a musician, a singer, and "you may not know me, but your wife knows me". Sam then sat in his car and waited for professional help to arrive. Guralnick went on to say that "this was a very bold remark for Sam to make" (the implication being that it is an insulting remark to the police officer's wife) and Tavis just repeated, kind of chuckling, "yes, a very bold remark". (he,he; wink,wink...) I found this response hurtful and totally uncalled for and unworthy of Tavis Smiley.
Peter Guralnick was born in 1943. I think that from his own family's experience and from the families of his friends and neighbours and in society in general, he is old enough to know that the vast majority of families in the USA in Sam's times, were traditional families--the husband was employed outside of the home and the wife stayed at home.
It is normal then that the wife could listen to the radio every day, and it is the wife who will know what was happening on the music scene, who was who in music, and to know about individual musicians and to reocognise various musicians. And if there were teenagers in the home, then it was even more so--the wife and the kids knew music and musicians, much more than the husbands/fathers.
It is incredible to me that Guralnick mentions Sam's refusal to push his car out of the way, as a kind of "by the way" footnote, and he places all the emphasis of this incident on Sam's remark. Sam's refusal to push the car out of the way shows a man confident enough to stand up for his rights; Sam's "bold remark" is neither bold nor it is unusual. It is just a statement of a fact that any day-time TV or radio personality or a successful musician could have made. Tavis, whose business it is to ask questions and to not be taken for the proverbial ride, failed here.
I mean here we have Sam Cooke, a Black young man, in the South USA, in the late 50's/early 60's where racism and segregation were very much the daily reality, and he not only refuses to obey the white police officer, but he also insults his wife in the process?! And the police officer does not lash out to strike or to punch or to kick Sam? Why didn't Tavis wonder about this? Obviously the police officer understood Sam's remark the way Sam meant it; that people knew Sam Cooke because of his songs and music. Now, if Tavis and Guralnick discussed this privately, then the harm would have been only to themselves, but sadly they had an audience... And this is but one example of how inaccuracies and misinformation and fabrications can be spread.
I love Sam Cooke. I am one of his greatest fans--one of his many greatest fans. Sam Cooke is my Hero.
I strongly recommend "Our Uncle Sam" because it is finally the voice of Sam Cooke that we hear. Equally strongly, I recommend this book for what it does not have--no inaccuracies, no misinformation, no fabrications and no ignorance.
Five Stars definitely. For the subject, for the author and for the book.
(P.S) R. Grant. Yes, I have The Legend DVD. And, no, Guralnick's version of Sam Cooke's remark, as told during the interview with Tavis Smiley, is not accurate or complete. In his attempt to have us believe that Sam's "very bold remark" proves that Sam "courted death", Guralnick ommited the parts that render Sam's remark self-explanatory and normal. What Sam's complete remark amounts to is that he believed that he was a famous singer and that people knew him from his songs and music.
Now, it is possible, I guess, that Sam had overestimated his fame and popularity. Anything is possible, but I doubt it. Sam did not live in tra-la land. He was a very smart man with very good observational skills and very aware of what was happening around him. Also, the success of his records was a testimony to his popularity. In addition, it is obvious that this incident happend after "You Send Me" and it happened in Memphis. Memphis is not in the boonies. So, unless Sam Cooke and his music were banned from the radio stations in Memphis, it is normal for Sam to believe that anybody who had daily access to a radio there would know about him and his music. It follows from all the above that in its entirety, there is nothing unusual about Sam's remark; it is not "a very bold remark for Sam to make" and definitely, it is not proof that Sam "courted death". But it is an example of how easy it is to spread ignorance and inaccurate information by anybody, Guralnik included.
Read the book The real sam cooke is waiting for you.
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