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An African American Family Saga
A daughter of freed African American slaves, Daisy Turner became a living repository of history. The family narrative entrusted to her--"a well-polished artifact, an heirloom that had been carefully preserved"--began among the Yoruba in West Africa and continued with her own century and more of life. In 1983, folklorist Jane Beck began a series of interviews with Turner, then one hundred years old and still relating four generations of oral history. Beck uses Turner's storytelling to build the Turner family saga, using at its foundation the oft-repeated touchstone stories at the heart of their experiences: the abduction into slavery of Turner's African ancestors; Daisy's father Alec Turner learning to read; his return as a soldier to his former plantation to kill the overseer; and Daisy's childhood stand against racism. Other stories re-create enslavement and her father's life in Vermont--in short, the range of life events large and small, transmitted by means so alive as to include voice inflections. Beck, at the same time, weaves in historical research and offers a folklorist's perspective on oral history and the hazards--and uses--of memory.
In 1834 Samuel W. Pond and his brother Gideon built a cabin near Cloud Man's village of the Dakota Indians on the shore of Lake Calhoun--now present-day Minneapolis--intending to preach Christianity to the Indians. The brothers were to spend nearly twenty years learning the Dakota language and observing how the Indians lived.In the 1860s and 1870s, after the Dakota had fought a disastrous war with the whites who had taken their land, Samuel Pond recorded his recollections of the Indians "to show what manner of people the Dakotas were . . . while they still retained the customs of their ancestors."Pond's work, first published in 1908, is now considered a classic. Gary Clayton Anderson's introduction discusses Pond's career and the effects of his background on this work, "unrivaled today for its discussion of Dakota material culture and social, political, religious, and economic institutions."
Charles Eastman and American Indian Thought
Charles Eastman straddled two worlds in his life and writing. The author of Indian Boyhood was raised in the traditional way after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. His father later persuaded him to study Christianity and attend medical school. But when Eastman served as a government doctor during the Wounded Knee massacre, he became disillusioned about Americans' capacity to live up to their own ideals. While Eastman's contemporaries viewed him as "a great American and a true philosopher," Indian scholars have long dismissed Eastman's work as assimilationist. Now, for the first time, his philosophy as manifested in his writing is examined in detail. David Martinez explores Eastman's views on the U.S.-Dakota War, Dakota and Ojibwe relations, Dakota sacred history, and citizenship in the Progressive Era, claiming for him a long overdue place in America's intellectual pantheon.
Creativity, Culture, and Exile
A tiny pair of beaded deerskin moccasins, given to a baby in 1913, provides the starting point for this thoughtful examination of the work of Dakota women. Mary Eastman Faribault, born in Minnesota, made them almost four decades after the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862. This and other ornately decorated objects created by Dakota women—cradleboards, clothing, animal skin containers—served more than a utilitarian function. They tell the story of colonization, genocide, and survival. Author Colette Hyman traces the changes in the lives of Dakota women, starting before the arrival of whites and covering the fur trade, the years of treaties and shrinking lands, the brutal time of removal, starvation, and shattered families after 1862—and then the transition to reservation life, when missionaries and government agents worked to turn the Dakota into Christian farmers. The decorative work of Dakota women reflected all of this: native organic dyes and quillwork gave way to beading and needlework, items traditionally decorated for family gifts were produced to sell to tourists and white collectors, work on cradleboards and animal skin bags shifted to the ornamenting of hymnals and the creation of star quilts. Through it all, the work of Dakota women proclaims and retains Dakota identity: it is a testament to the endurance of Dakota traditions, to the survival of the Dakota in exile, and—most vividly—to the role of women in that survival.
Stories from a Cold War Correspondent
For over a quarter of a century, award-winning journalist Henry Bradsher reported stories from around the world. In this lively and engaging account, Bradsher recounts episodes from a distinguished career that took him to the Himalayas, the jungles of Bhutan, Kremlin caviar receptions, China’s Forbidden City, and the battlefields of Vietnam. Throughout, Bradsher emphasizes the unpredictability of a correspondent’s life and the strains, perils, and privileges of standing witness to momentous world events. In South Asia, Bradsher reported the Dalai Lama’s escape from Tibet in 1959 and the last five years that Jawaharlal Nehru led India—with a side trip to hunt tigers in Nepal with Queen Elizabeth. In Moscow he covered the downfall of Nikita Khrushchev, and he later suffered the KGB bombing of his car in response to his tenacious reporting. His incisive coverage from Hong Kong led Chinese officials to label Bradsher as “the most despicable” journalist. But after a power shift, they welcomed him as the first American journalist allowed to work in China in over a year. Bradsher predicted and reported Bangladesh’s independence struggle, and he worked in the Middle East, covering Egyptian-Israeli peace arrangements. Access to the events that shaped the Cold War also led to Bradsher’s meeting many world leaders, including Nehru, Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Zhou Enlai, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin. Although Bradsher’s reporting riled officials in Moscow, Beijing, and even the United States—prompting Henry Kissinger’s attempts to thwart the publication of his reports—history has proven its accuracy. Bradsher’s relentlessness in his own work accompanied a profound respect for fellow journalists worldwide who endanger themselves to keep the public informed.
Blacklisted Hollywood Radical
James Dalton Trumbo (1905--1976) is widely recognized for his work as a screenwriter, playwright, and author, but he is also remembered as one of the Hollywood Ten who opposed the House Un-American Activities Committee. Refusing to answer questions about his prior involvement with the Communist Party, Trumbo sacrificed a successful career in Hollywood to stand up for his rights and defend political freedom.
In Dalton Trumbo, authors Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo present thier extensive research on the famed writer, detailing his work, his membership in the Communist Party, his long campaign against censorship during the domestic cold war, his ten-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress, and his thirteen-year struggle to break the blacklist.
The blacklist ended for Trumbo in 1960, when he received screen credits for Exodus and Spartacus. Just before his death, he received a long-delayed Academy Award for The Brave One, and in 1993, he was posthumously given an Academy Award for Roman Holiday (1953). This comprehensive biography provides insights into the many notable people with whom Trumbo worked, including Stanley Kubrick, Otto Preminger, and Kirk Douglas, and offers a fascinating look at the life of one of Hollywood's most prominent screenwriters and his battle against persecution.
The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron
Dameronia is the first authoritative biography of Tadd Dameron, an important and widely influential figure in jazz history as one of the most significant composers and arrangers of jazz, swing, bebop, and big band. He arranged for names like Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Jimmie Lunceford, and Dizzy Gillespie and played with Bull Moose Jackson and Benny Golson. This book sets out to clarify Dameron's place in the development of jazz in the post–World War II era. It also attempts to shed light on the tragedy of his retreat from the center of jazz activity in the 1950s. By tracing Dameron's career, one finds that until 1958, when he was incarcerated for drug related offenses, he was at the forefront of developments in jazz, sometimes anticipating trends that would not develop fully for several years. Dameron was also an important influence on several high-profile musicians, including Miles Davis, Benny Golson, and Frank Foster. Dameron was a very private man, and while in some aspects of his life he will probably remain an enigma, this book manages to give an intimate portrait of his life at a couple of key stages: the height of his career in 1949 and the brief but productive period between his release from prison and his death.
Rereading Film Noir
With its focus on dangerous, determined femmes fatales, hardboiled detectives, and crimes that almost-but-never-quite succeed, film noir has long been popular with moviegoers and film critics alike. Film noir was a staple of classical Hollywood filmmaking during the years 1941-1958 and has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity since the 1990s. Dames in the Driver's Seat offers new views of both classical-era and contemporary noirs through the lenses of gender, class, and race. Jans Wager analyzes how changes in film noir's representation of women's and men's roles, class status, and racial identities mirror changes in a culture that is now often referred to as postmodern and postfeminist. Following introductory chapters that establish the theoretical basis of her arguments, Wager engages in close readings of the classic noirs The Killers, Out of the Past, and Kiss Me Deadly and the contemporary noirs L. A. Confidential, Mulholland Falls, Fight Club, Twilight, Fargo, and Jackie Brown. Wager divides recent films into retro-noirs (made in the present, but set in the 1940s and 1950s) and neo-noirs (made and set in the present but referring to classic noir narratively or stylistically). Going beyond previous studies of noir, her perceptive readings of these films reveal that retro-noirs fulfill a reactionary social function, looking back nostalgically to outdated gender roles and racial relations, while neo-noirs often offer more revisionary representations of women, though not necessarily of people of color.