- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (July 10, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780446530279
- ISBN-13: 978-0446530279
- ASIN: 0446530271
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Road South: A Memoir Hardcover – July 10, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
In this riveting memoir, Stewart, a prominent African-American businessman and radio personality for more than 50 years, tells a harrowing, inspiring story rivaling any of the current hard-bitten chronicles heralding triumph over poverty and other social obstacles. He opens by recollecting a racial incident during his days on the radio as "Shelley the Playboy," in which several of his white teenaged fans serve as an unlikely buffer between their idol and some irate Birmingham Klansmen, Stewart withstands the constant wrath of a father who gambles, drinks excessively and steals, and eventually kills his dutiful wife while his children watch. Spurned by relatives, the children reside briefly with a malicious aunt, who feeds them fried rats and makes them sleep on bedbug-infested mattresses, while they scavenge in the streets for survival. Vicious beatings, deprivation and sexual abuse inflicted upon the children drive them to seek refuge with a white man named Papa Clyde and his family, who treat them with a kindness that defies the era's racial code. If the lows of Stewart's remarkable life are depicted with frank, clear-eyed potency, then his recovery from depression and alcoholism come off as almost miraculous. In the author's fairly low-key narrative, he weathers a troubled military tour, a stint in a mental ward, a start-and-stop marriage and run-ins with the law. Through the years of struggle and short-term success, Stewart's determination and resourcefulness propel him to radio stardom and ownership of a multimillion dollar music business empire, something the author nearly underplays in this powerful, moving rags-to-riches tale.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This memoir of civil rights activist and radio personality Stewart revolves around the cruelty of his mother's death (at the hands of his father) when he was five years old, his lifelong reliance on her spirit for guidance, and his steady longing to forge loving bonds with his three brothers, the mothers of his children, the children themselves, and others in his life. Rejected and then grossly mistreated by his father and his extended family, shunted from caretaker to caretaker, the young Stewart nevertheless took to learning, became an avid reader, hustled, and endured. Somewhere within him was a confidence in his ability to survive despite an abysmal repetition of beatings, setbacks, and rejections in the segregated South of the Forties and Fifties. In high school, he was the only African American in a variety show and won an audition and shoe-store sponsorship for a local disk jockey spot. After a 50-year record as an outspoken popular radio personality, Stewart is now vice chairman and chief consulting officer of a large advertising and communications firm. The moving story of a very strong individual, this is highly recommended to a general reading public. Suzanne W. Wood, formerly with SUNY Coll. of Technology at Alfred
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Saying that Shelly Stewart survived a difficult childhood would be a major understatement. Shelly and his three brothers witnessed, experienced and endured things that no human being, let alone a child, should ever have to encounter. However, even as a child, Shelly made a conscious decision not to let his early life keep him down. Shelly Stewart exemplifies resilience. He was a man that had any number of things going against him but persevered in spite of the circumstances around him and was never afraid to dream. As a result, he has benefited from successful careers in radio and the field of communications. This book is not for the faint of heart; as I read Stewart's descriptions of his early life there were times when I wanted to cry and others where I felt physically ill. The abuse that he and his brothers survived cannot easily be put into words. What I respected most about Stewart was that even though he was victimized he never came across as a victim because he openly and honestly acknowledges and takes responsibility for his own mistakes. This is a moving and emotional memoir that extends far beyond a sharing of historical and political information and eloquently captures a story of personal triumph and disappointment.
Reviewed by Stacey Seay