The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader
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Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Hardcover: 656 pages
Publisher: Basic Civitas Books (May 1, 2012)
Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 2.2 x 9.3 inches
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of the nation’s most acclaimed scholars, is a masterful jack of all trades, including educator, editor, critic and filmmaker. This omnibus of essays on race, culture, and genealogy, The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader, collected over thirty years, showcases Gates, the Harvard professor, at his best. He is currently the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
Often, Gates can go too far afield, meandering into a far-flung detail, but he never fails to get right back on target. When the scholar discusses New York Times writer Anatole Broyard, who was born black and passed for white, he concludes: “Anatole Broyard had confessed enough in his time to know that confession did nothing for the soul. He preferred to communicate his truth on higher frequencies.” (pg. 347)
Or Gates can let the humanity shine through, despite the blinding light of celebrity, as in his electrifying chat with writer James Baldwin and international singer/actress Josephine Baker in the south of France. Baldwin, ever the rabble-rouser, chimes in: “I was the captive nigger. I was the exotic attraction of the beast no longer in the cage. People paid attention.” (pp. 563)
While this reader provides us with range and determined loyalty to research, Gates shows himself on a scholarly par with any of the noted white intellectuals. He’s a force to be reckoned with. He explains to this community about the depth of our ancestry, the courage and boldness of our pioneers, and the persistence of our leaders in achieving equality and freedom. This sampler is more than a history lesson, but a cultural quest by Gates for excellence and historical clarity.
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