100 Amazing Facts About the Negro

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Pantheon, $40 (496p) ISBN 978-0-307-90871-1
Harvard professor Gates (Life upon These Shores) leads readers on a broad and inviting tour of black history with this compendium modeled after journalist Joel Rogers’s 1957 book 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof: A Short Cut to the World History of the Negro. Gates’s version, an outgrowth of his writings published on the website the Root, consists of 100 brief essays written in a question-and-answer format on such wide ranging topics as “Who was the first black person to see the baby Jesus?”; “Who were the black passengers on the doomed Titanic voyage?”; and “What happened to Argentina’s black population?” Illustrated with one image per entry, the collection is peppered with information about little-known events in far-away places (such as Argentina, France, and Iraq) and far-removed times (the oldest entry covers ancient Greece). The work is particularly rich in 19th-century American history, with entries on Richard Potter, the first American ventriloquist; Henry “Box” Brown, who escaped slavery in Virginia in 1849 by shipping himself to Philadelphia in a cargo box; and on the raid on Harpers Ferry and the Colfax Massacre. Gates’s book is aimed at readers with limited knowledge of African-American history rather than scholars, and its tendencies toward exaggeration, titillation, irony, and debunking make for an easy romp, with enough obscure tidbits to entertain and inform specialists as well. Illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017
Release date: 10/24/2017
Ebook - 978-0-307-90872-8
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