Book Casing

Great books recommended by great people.

Ishmael Reed's Bookcase

Ishmael Scott Reed (born February 22, 1938) is an American poet, novelist, essayist, songwriter, playwright, editor and publisher, who is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.

Photo by: slowking4

Recommends

Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about in taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.

Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II

Numbering 4,000 select officers and men, Combat Team 370 was part of n Europe during World War II the 92nd Infantry Division, the only all-Negro division to fight in Europe during World War II. In Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II, author Ivan J. Houston recounts his experiences, when, as a nineteen-year-old California college student, he entered the US Army and served with the 3rd Battalion, 370th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division of the US Fifth Army from 1943 to 1945.

Drawn from minute-by-minute records of the unit's activities compiled by Houston during his deployment in Italy, this account describes both the historic encounters and the achievements of his fellow black soldiers during this breakthrough period in American military history. It tells of how the Buffalo Soldiers fought alongside other American troops, including Japanese Americans and soldiers from Great Britain, Brazil, South Africa, and India.

With photos and maps included, Black Warriors: The Buffalo Soldiers of World War II provides a compelling, firsthand account of the segregated Buffalo Soldiers' experiences while they fought not only the power of the Nazi war machine but also racism and the widely held belief they were not up to the task. Their achievements prove otherwise.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

Black Girl from Tannery Flats, the first book written by Thelma V. Reed, is an especially important memoir because Thelma V. Reed tells what ordinary black people had to go through in the early part of the twentieth century. Their triumphs and tragedies. Henry Louis Gates, Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, comments: "Thelma V. Reed has lived through a lot, and we are fortunate that she has chosen to share her stories of pre-Civil Rights Southern girlhood, wartime and post-war work and family life in the North, and her inspiring emotional and spiritual journey in this vivid and gripping memoir…. Black Girl from Tannery Flats will stay with you, whether you are a scholar of twentieth century African American history or a student of life itself." Cecil Brown, author of Stagolee Shot Billy (Harvard University Press, 2003) comments: "Thelma V. Reed employs a narrative style that has all but disappeared from African-American literature. This is how it sounded before the arrival of television, when the young people gathered around the Southern fires and listened to their elders tell their histories."

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

In this vibrant, fact-packed romp through the last 100 years, Rediscovering America explores the lost history of America, highlighting and reintegrating the complex contributions of women, African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans, immigrants, artists, renegades, rebels, rogues, and others normally cast to the margins of history books, but without whom there is no honest accounting of American history. In an accessible timeline format, it paints an inclusive picture of our recent past, without sentiment or favor, respecting the true richness and complexity of 100 years in the life of a nation.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

A History of the Freedman's Savings Bank (Blacks in the New World)

From dust jacket notes: "'The black man's cow, but the white man's milk' - this was how Frederick Douglass and many others viewed the Freedman's Savings Bank. Begun in 1865 to provide freedmen with a place for saving the profits from their crops and bounty payments from military service, within a scant decade the Bank had failed. Too late, depositors discovered that the Bank's prestigious directors had manipulated and embezzled the funds which they had been carefully and conscientiously entrusting to it...."

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism

When Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1924, he held up a foreign law as a model for his program of racial purification: The U.S. Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which prohibited the immigration of those with hereditary illnesses and entire ethnic groups. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they installed a program of eugenics--the attempted "improvement" of the population through forced sterilization and marriage controls--that consciously drew on the U.S. example. By then, many American states had long had compulsory sterilization laws for "defectives," upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927. Small wonder that the Nazi laws led one eugenics activist in Virginia to complain, "The Germans are beating us at our own game." In The Nazi Connection, Stefan Kühl uncovers the ties between the American eugenics movement and the Nazi program of racial hygiene, showing that many American scientists actively supported Hitler's policies. After introducing us to the recently resurgent problem of scientific racism, Kühl carefully recounts the history of the eugenics movement, both in the United States and internationally, demonstrating how widely the idea of sterilization as a genetic control had become accepted by the early twentieth century. From the first, the American eugenicists led the way with radical ideas. Their influence led to sterilization laws in dozens of states--laws which were studied, and praised, by the German racial hygienists. With the rise of Hitler, the Germans enacted compulsory sterilization laws partly based on the U.S. experience, and American eugenists took pride in their influence on Nazi policies. Kühl recreates astonishing scenes of American eugenicists travelling to Germany to study the new laws, publishing scholarly articles lionizing the Nazi eugenics program, and proudly comparing personal notes from Hitler thanking them for their books. Even after the outbreak of war, he writes, the American eugenicists frowned upon Hitler's totalitarian government, but not his sterilization laws. So deep was the failure to recognize the connection between eugenics and Hitler's genocidal policies, that a prominent liberal Jewish eugenicist who had been forced to flee Germany found it fit to grumble that the Nazis "took over our entire plan of eugenic measures." By 1945, when the murderous nature of the Nazi government was made perfectly clear, the American eugenicists sought to downplay the close connections between themselves and the German program. Some of them, in fact, had sought to distance themselves from Hitler even before the war. But Stefan Kühl's deeply documented book provides a devastating indictment of the influence--and aid--provided by American scientists for the most comprehensive attempt to enforce racial purity in world history.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

With an Introduction and Notes by Henry Claridge, Senior Lecturer, School of English, University of Kent at Canterbury.

The four novels gathered here constitute the complete longer works of one the most brilliant and original American writers. West’s vision of American modernity is terrifyingly comical and diagnoses the tawdriness and meretriciousness of much of American popular culture. His greatest work, Miss Lonelyhearts, which begins this collection, is unique in modern literature. It describes New York in the early years of the Great Depression through the point of view of an ‘agony aunt’ who corresponds with his suffering readers in the guise of Miss Lonelyhearts: ‘(Are you in trouble? – Do you need advice?)’. A Cool Million is, as its subtitle suggests, the ‘dismantling’ of a myth, here a caustic satire of the ‘rags to riches’ story. West’s final novel, The Day of the Locust, is a comic, yet apocalyptic account of the fantasies of 1930s Hollywood. This volume concludes with West’s parodic and surreal first venture into fiction, The Dream Life of Balso Snell. Henry Claridge’s introduction to this new edition of West’s fictional writings contextualises his work in the United States of the Great Depression, in his evocation of 1930s Hollywood (where he worked as a writer of screenplays), and in the larger context of his Eastern European Jewish background, and, particularly, his reading of Dostoyesvky. The text comes with extensive annotations, a note on the textual history of West’s writings, and a guide to further reading for both the student and the general reader.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

A History of Police Violence in New York City

Street Justice traces the stunning history of police brutality in New York City, and the antibrutality movements that sought to eradicate it, from just after the Civil War through the present. New York's experience with police brutality dates back to the founding of the force and has shown itself in various forms ever since: From late-nineteenth-century "clubbing"-the routine bludgeoning of citizens by patrolmen with nightsticks-to the emergence of the "third degree," made notorious by gangster movies, from the violent mass-action policing of political dissidents during periods of social unrest, such as the 1930s and 1960s, to the tumultuous days following September 11.

Yet throughout this varied history, the victims of police violence have remained remarkably similar: they have been predominantly poor and working class, and more often than not they have been minorities. Johnson compellingly argues that the culture of policing will only be changed when enough sustained political pressure and farsighted thinking about law enforcement is brought to bear on the problem.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

Tiffany works in Peeps Castle, keeping her coked-up boyfriend in drugs, her crazy mother off the streets, and her vulnerable friends together as best she can in this unblinkingly powerful debut by Timothy Reed. From the depths of abuse and neglect to the ironic stability of her lucrative job performing in a glassed-in booth on 42nd Street, Tiffany, still haunted by the voices of her “swine chorus,” is at the center of Showing Out, the story of a young woman and several of her co-workers. From her close friend, the birdlike Melanie who’s been in the flesh trade since she was thirteen years old, to the obnoxious transvestite Meeca, Showing Out paints indelible portraits of a handful of courageous fellow performers as they try to deal with their own love lives, drugs, AIDS, and the work. Punctuated by Tiffany’s memories of a childhood that included sexual abuse, an alcoholic mother, and an absent father, Showing Out tracks Tiffany’s struggle to move beyond her current life at the old Times Square—and Peeps Castle with it—juggernauts to its own end. Written by the daughter of renowned novelist Ishmael Reed, Showing Out is raw, real, and by turns hilarious and harrowing.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

The First Twenty-One Years of a Poet's Life

Powerful prose, poetry, and jazz riffs chronicle the first 21 years of the life of Haki R. Madhubuti, formerly Don L. Lee: poet, publisher, editor, and activist. He was raised by his mother Maxine, whose life is also recounted--including gritty details of how she used her body to feed, house, and shelter her children without help from their absentee father. Despite the obstacles in his childhood, music and literature molded the young Don Lee, effectively saving his life.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in White Supremacist Discourse

White supremacist groups have traditionally been viewed as "fringe" groups to be ignored, dismissed, or at most, observed warily. White Lies investigates the white supremacist imagination, and argues instead that the ideology of these groups is much closer to core American values than most of us would like to believe. The book explores white supremacist ideology through an analysis of over 300 publications from a variety of white supremacist organizations. It examines the discourse of these publications and the ways in which "whites," "blacks," and "Jews" are constructed within that discourse.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

September 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of Maud Martha, the only novel published by esteemed poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Initially entitled ""American Family Brown"" the work would eventually come to symbolize some of Brooks' most provocative writing. In a novel that captures the essence of Black life, Brooks recognizes the beauty and strength that lies within each of us.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

Nazi Editor of the Notorious Anti-Semitic Newspaper Der Stürmer

The Nazis put a remarkable amount of effort into anti-Semitic propaganda, intending to bring ordinary Germans around to the destructive ideology of the Nazi party. Julius Streicher (1885-1946) spearheaded many of these efforts, publishing anti-Semitic articles and cartoons in his weekly newspaper, Der Stürmer, the most widely read paper in the Third Reich. Streicher won the close personal friendship of Hitler and Himmler, and drew deserved attacks from the world press. Bytwerk's biography examines Streicher's use of propaganda techniques, and the hate literature towards Jews that continued to appear after his death, bearing his influence.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

Tennessee Reed compiled her writing from 1998 to 2006 in City Beautiful, her fourth published poetry collection. Among her experiences living a poet's life since the age of five were 1994 poetry workshops and readings in Berlin and Bonn, Germany, where she was youngest person ever presented by the United States Information Agency's Arts America Program. This two-part volume features a series of poems inspired by animals, "Animals & Others," originally part of her 2005 Master of Fine Art's thesis project at Mills College.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics

Crosses disciplinary boundaries in major debates on postmodern theory, cultural criticism, and the politics of race and gender. hooks values postmodernism's insights while warning that the fashionable infatuation with "discourse" about "difference" is dangerously detachable from the struggle we must all wage against racism, sexism, and cultural imperialism.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

Generally recognized as one of the most important novels of the tumultuous 1960s, The Man Who Cried I Am vividly evokes the harsh era of segregation that presaged the expatriation of African-American intellectuals. Through the eyes of journalist Max Reddick, and with penetrating fictional portraits of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, among other historical figures, John A Williams reveals the hope, courage, and bitter disappointment of the civil-rights era. Infused with powerful artistry, searing anger, as well as insight, humanity, and vision, The Man Who Cried I Am is a classic of postwar American literature.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

:

The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972

From Kennedy to Nixon, the FBI unwillingly found itself at the center of the struggle for racial equality and justice. Kenneth O'Reilly tells the shocking story of how political loyalties, priorities, and prejudices turned a government agency into an adversary, instead of a protector, of civil rights.

Found via: Ideal Bookshelf

You might also enjoy books from