Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Collecting letters written by African Americans that span the past 200 years, Newkirk (journalism, NYU; Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media) presents snapshots of the black experience that vary with each piece of correspondence. This anthology features the writings of individuals who range from highly celebrated to barely literate and presents stories that are of vital historical importance and touchingly personal. Newkirk divides the letters by topic-covering family, courtship and romance, politics and social justice, education and scholarship, war, art and culture, and the African diaspora-and offers concise introductions to each. Notes from the editor appear throughout, which provide valuable context and make this work as accessible to general readers as to students of American history. While this unique collection of letters represents a frank depiction of the black experience, the great achievement is that these writings often go far beyond race and class to simply tell the story of the human experience in America. Highly recommended for public and undergraduate libraries.-Allen McGinley, Piscataway P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-This superb collection of more than 200 letters ranges widely in time, subject matter, and language, and as a unit it adds immeasurably to the singular story of a people, expressing in the most intimate terms the hopes, fears, struggles, tragedies, and triumphs of African Americans. From slavery to post-9/11, from Phillis Wheatley to Barack Obama, the book gathers correspondence from politicians, writers, and academics, as well as slaves, sharecroppers, servicemen, and domestic workers. Many well-known names are included: Martin Luther King, Jr., Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker. But the most moving entries are the barely literate and astonishingly painful pleas for family, and for simple justice, by otherwise nameless individuals of the Jim Crow era. Here are people with no hope left other than the belief that death will bring the reunion in Heaven of husband and wife, mother and son. The letters are arranged chronologically within broad subject areas such as family, courtship and romance, and politics and social justice. Each section has a brief introduction by Newkirk, just enough to set the stage. There are 16 pages of well-chosen black-and-white photographs, mostly portraits and samples of correspondence. By far, the strength of this volume lies in the indispensable glimpse it provides into the hearts and minds of strong, resilient Americans.-Robert Saunderson, formerly at Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.