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Native Peoples and the Struggle for History in New England
The French Overseas Penal Colonies, 1854-1952
An understanding of modern France is not complete without an examination of this institution, which existed for more than a century and imprisoned more than one hundred thousand people. Stephen A. Toth invites readers to experience the prisons firsthand. Through a careful analysis of criminal case files, administrative records, and prisoner biographies, Toth reconstructs life in the penal colonies and examines how the social sciences, tropical medicine, and sensational journalism evaluated and exploited the inmates’ experiences. In exploring the disjuncture between the real and the imagined, he moves beyond mythic characterizations of the penal colonies to reveal how power, discipline, and punishment were construed and enforced in these prison outposts.
Charles Young at West Point
Brian G. Shellum’s biography of Young’s years at West Point chronicles the enormous challenges that Young faced and provides a valuable window into life at West Point in the 1880s. Academic difficulties, hazing, and social ostracism dogged him throughout his academy years. He succeeded through a combination of focused intellect, hard work, and a sense of humor. By graduation, he had made white friends, and his motivation and determination had won him the grudging respect of many of his classmates and professors.
Until now, scholars of African American and military history have neglected this important U.S. Army trailblazer. Young’s experiences at the U.S. Military Academy, his triumph over adversity, and his commitment to success forged the mold for his future achievements as an Army officer, even as the United States slipped further into the degradation and waste of racial intolerance.
Conversations with the Black Elk Family
The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves
Bucking the odds (“I’m sorry, we didn’t keep black people’s history,” a clerk at one of Oklahoma’s local historical societies answered to a query), Art T. Burton traces Reeves from his days of slavery to his soldiering in the Civil War battles of the Trans-Mississippi Theater to his career as a deputy U.S. marshal out of Fort Smith, Arkansas, beginning in 1875 when he worked under “Hanging Judge” Isaac C. Parker. Fluent in Creek and other southern Native languages, physically powerful, skilled with firearms, and a master of disguise, Reeves was exceptionally adept at apprehending fugitives and outlaws and his exploits were legendary in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Black Gun, Silver Star restores this remarkable figure to his rightful place in the history of the American West.
Recent years have seen an increase in the number of African Americans elected to political office in cities where the majority of their constituents are not black. In the past, the leadership of black politicians was characterized as either “deracialized” or “racialized”—that is, as either focusing on politics that transcend race or as making black issues central to their agenda. Today many African American politicians elected to offices in non-majority-black cities are adopting a strategy that universalizes black interests as intrinsically relevant to the needs of their entire constituency.
In Black Mayors, White Majorities Ravi K. Perry explores the conditions in which black mayors of majority-white cities are able to represent black interests and whether blacks’ historically high expectations for black mayors are being realized. Perry uses Toledo and Dayton, Ohio, as case studies, and his analysis draws on interviews with mayors and other city officials, business leaders, and heads of civic organizations, in addition to official city and campaign documents and newspapers. Perry also analyzes mayoral speeches, the 2001 ward-level election results, and city demographics. Black Mayors, White Majorities encourages readers to think beyond the black-white dyad and instead to envision policies that can serve constituencies with the greatest needs as well as the general public.
The Military Career of Charles Young
An unheralded military hero, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first African American national park superintendent, the first black U.S. military attaché, the first African American officer to command a Regular Army regiment, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment tells the story of the man who—willingly or not—served as a standard-bearer for his race in the officer corps for nearly thirty years, and who, if not for racial prejudice, would have become the first African American general. Brian G. Shellum describes how, during his remarkable army career, Young was shuffled among the few assignments deemed suitable for a black officer in a white man’s army—the Buffalo Soldier regiments, an African American college, and diplomatic posts in black republics such as Liberia. Nonetheless, he used his experience to establish himself as an exceptional cavalry officer. He was a colonel on the eve of the United States’ entry into World War I, when serious medical problems and racial intolerance denied him command and ended his career. Shellum’s book seeks to restore a hero to the ranks of military history; at the same time, it informs our understanding of the role of race in the history of the American military.
The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training
Blackout chronicles Robinson’s tremendous ordeal during that crucial spring training—how he struggled on the field and off. The restaurants and hotels that welcomed his white teammates were closed to him, and in one city after another he was prohibited from taking the field. Steeping his story in its complex cultural context, Lamb describes Robinson’s determination and anxiety, the reaction of the black and white communities to his appearance, and the unique and influential role of the press—mainstream reporting, the alternative black weeklies, and the Communist Daily Worker—in the integration of baseball. Told here in detail for the first time, this story brilliantly encapsulates the larger history of a man, a sport, and a nation on the verge of great and enduring change.
The Story of a Tale
The story of the Blind Man and the Loon is a living Native folktale about a blind man who is betrayed by his mother or wife but whose vision is magically restored by a kind loon. Variations of this tale are told by Native storytellers all across Alaska, arctic Canada, Greenland, the Northwest Coast, and even into the Great Basin and the Great Plains. As the story has traveled through cultures and ecosystems over many centuries, individual storytellers have added cultural and local ecological details to the tale, creating countless variations.
In The Blind Man and the Loon: The Story of a Tale, folklorist Craig Mishler goes back to 1827, tracing the story’s emergence across Greenland and North America in manuscripts, books, and in the visual arts and other media such as film, music, and dance theater. Examining and comparing the story’s variants and permutations across cultures in detail, Mishler brings the individual storyteller into his analysis of how the tale changed over time, considering how storytellers and the oral tradition function within various societies. Two maps unequivocally demonstrate the routes the story has traveled. The result is a masterful compilation and analysis of Native oral traditions that sheds light on how folktales spread and are adapted by widely diverse cultures.