Awfully long for all but the most committed tap fanatics, but an intelligent, thoughtful assessment worth dipping into by...

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WHAT THE EYE HEARS

A HISTORY OF TAP DANCING

New York Times dance critic Seibert debuts with an exhaustive account of tap, from its roots in African dance to its multicultural apotheosis.

In early chapters, the author delves into the transfer of rhythm from drums, forbidden as possible instruments of rebellious slave communications, to slapping feet, making the point that sound and rhythm were the essence of this African-American art form. Casual readers may weary in the long introductory section about minstrelsy, but it’s here that Seibert cogently lays out his central themes of assimilation and appropriation, asking as he surveys pioneers like Master Juba how much they catered to white folks, how much instructed them. As tap moved onto Broadway and into the movies, the vexed question for artists was how much pandering was required to gain commercial acceptance. The author appreciates the contributions made by Irish traditions and white innovators like Fred Astaire, who brought black tap with his distinctive adaptations to a mainstream audience. But he reminds us of the many brilliant tappers like the Nicholas Brothers and John Bubbles, sidelined into specialty numbers while commendable but less-extraordinary talents like Eleanor Powell and Ann Miller became stars. The African-American tradition, kept alive at places like the Hoofers’ Club in Harlem and through the devoted efforts of white women like Brenda Bufalino, finally got its due in the tap revival of the 1990s, when youthful veteran Gregory Hines made the old ways new again. In 1995, Savion Glover took tap in a whole new direction with the angry, rap-inflected Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk. The text comes close to turning into a parade of names, but Seibert’s point of view and analytic skills are evident throughout. He acknowledges Glover’s genius, for example, while taking to task his purist posturing and celebrating tap as a typically multicultural American art form, born from black culture but amended and extended by all who loved it.

Awfully long for all but the most committed tap fanatics, but an intelligent, thoughtful assessment worth dipping into by anyone interested in American culture.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-86547-953-1

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the...

AN AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATINX HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

A concise, alternate history of the United States “about how people across the hemisphere wove together antislavery, anticolonial, pro-freedom, and pro-working-class movements against tremendous obstacles.”

In the latest in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series, Ortiz (History/Univ. of Florida; Emancipation Betrayed: The Hidden History of Black Organizing and White Violence in Florida from Reconstruction to the Bloody Election of 1920, 2005, etc.) examines U.S. history through the lens of African-American and Latinx activists. Much of the American history taught in schools is limited to white America, leaving out the impact of non-European immigrants and indigenous peoples. The author corrects that error in a thorough look at the debt of gratitude we owe to the Haitian Revolution, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Cuban War of Independence, all struggles that helped lead to social democracy. Ortiz shows the history of the workers for what it really was: a fatal intertwining of slavery, racial capitalism, and imperialism. He states that the American Revolution began as a war of independence and became a war to preserve slavery. Thus, slavery is the foundation of American prosperity. With the end of slavery, imperialist America exported segregation laws and labor discrimination abroad. As we moved into Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, we stole their land for American corporations and used the Army to enforce draconian labor laws. This continued in the South and in California. The rise of agriculture could not have succeeded without cheap labor. Mexican workers were often preferred because, if they demanded rights, they could just be deported. Convict labor worked even better. The author points out the only way success has been gained is by organizing; a great example was the “Day without Immigrants” in 2006. Of course, as Ortiz rightly notes, much more work is necessary, especially since Jim Crow and Juan Crow are resurging as each political gain is met with “legal” countermeasures.

A sleek, vital history that effectively shows how, “from the outset, inequality was enforced with the whip, the gun, and the United States Constitution.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-1310-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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