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BLACK TUDORS

THE UNTOLD STORY

An eminently readable book that offers contemporary readers valuable insights into racial relations of centuries past.

An intriguing history of Africans in Tudor England.

Kaufmann (Senior Research Fellow/Institute for Commonwealth Studies, Univ. of London) presents the stories of 10 African men and women engaged in a variety of occupations, from trumpeter to trader. The author argues that the common perception that all Africans were enslaved by the British is erroneous and that Renaissance England had many free Africans who were part of the social fabric. “Despite the insatiable appetite for all things Tudor, from raunchy television series to bath ducks modelled as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn,” she writes, “the existence of the Black Tudors is little known.” Through meticulous archival research, Kaufmann creates compelling portraits of her subjects, including a trumpet player at Henry VIII’s court, a salvage diver, a circumnavigator, a porter, a silk weaver, a Moroccan convert, a prince involved in trade negotiations, a mariner, a woman involved in sex work, and an independent single woman. Since they left few documents behind, Kaufmann pieces together their histories from church records, references in various documents by influential Englishmen, literary works, paintings, and other sources. Each story is anchored in the social and political history of the time. Thus, readers learn much about Henry VIII’s courtiers; West African deep-sea divers, who used no diving equipment but could reach sunken ships to retrieve goods; Francis Drake and his treacherous ways; prostitution in Tudor and Stuart England; and the processes of silk weaving and dairy farming. The narrative is engaging, and the author’s argument about how Africans were generally accepted in Tudor England is persuasive. She provides a wealth of detail and only occasionally gets lost in minutiae, making the book a highly instructive history of an understudied part of Tudor society

An eminently readable book that offers contemporary readers valuable insights into racial relations of centuries past.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78607-184-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


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  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist


  • National Book Award Winner

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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

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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