AGAINST ALL OPPOSITION

BLACK EXPLORERS IN AMERICA

Enlightening if vaguely documented accounts of black explorers of the American continent, the North Pole, and space, emphasizing the barriers of race that they overcame. After quoting early Arab documents to show that the emperor of ancient Mali (an accomplished African civilization) sent a large fleet across the Atlantic in the 13th century, Haskins speculates that this led to ``negroid'' features in some Mayan sculptures, similarities between African and American languages, and rumors that helped to inspire Columbus. ``It is likely that Columbus had with him either black seamen or black slaves who had knowledge of the ocean and the lands beyond it.'' Other better- known explorers included here are Estevanico (explorer of New Mexico), Jean Point du Sable (founder of Chicago), York (a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition), James Beckwourth (a half- black mountain man), George Bush (the first American settler in Washington territory), Matthew Henson, and Guion Bluford (the first black astronaut). Most entries are exciting accounts with substantial quotations from early journals, but their power is somewhat diminished by the many extraneous details, while astronaut Ronald McNair's story seems tacked on as an afterthought. Still, the inspirational value balances any stylistic shortcomings. Bibliography; index. B&w photos not seen. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8027-8137-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1992

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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JAM!

THE STORY OF JAZZ MUSIC

A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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