Despite its flaws, this work delivers a well-deserved tribute to a group that’s been abused and overlooked; the volume...

Major Impact!


An academic traces the contributions of African-Americans to the United States and the world.

Fuller (Black Methodists in America, 2012, etc.), a retired professor of sociology and African- American studies, tries to set the record straight about a group “dismissed as insignificant to a nation” that it “helped to create.” After endorsing theories about pre-Columbian African forays into America, he spells out blacks’ achievements chronologically and by category. These include Africans who accompanied early Spanish and Portuguese explorers as well as a colorful cast of black cowboys and others who helped open up the American West. His list of blacks in the military ranges from Crispus Attucks, the first patriot killed in the American Revolution, to Gen. Colin Powell. Contributions to the economy include not only the free labor extracted for centuries from slaves, but also the bright ideas of African-Americans who Fuller claims invented everything from pencil sharpeners to refrigerators. Outsized contributions by American blacks in the arts and sports include the obscure, such as the writer William Wells Brown and black jockeys in the 19th century, as well as the famous, such as Jackie Robinson and Alice Walker in the 20th. Fuller also catalogs blacks’ contributions to cooking, language, and other aspects of modern American culture. He chronicles efforts in education and addresses a long history of advancing civil rights, which, Fuller avers, benefited other groups, such as women, more than blacks. The author has written an important but uneven book. In tone and content, it seesaws from the magisterial to the dubious. Though he provides an encyclopedic account of blacks’ contributions, including many relatively unknown persons and events, Fuller undercuts his narrative with a labored writing style, weak sources, and pedantic asides, such as noting that New Orleans is “a southern U.S. city” and instructing readers about what’s “rather interesting.” Liberal use of passive verbs (“attention will be given,” for example) makes for flabby prose. Relying too often on debatable websites, including Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, and eHow, Fuller needs better sources to back his more contentious claims, especially in his chapters on inventions and pre-Columbian exploration of America. Given the huge cast of characters, events, and places, an index would be welcome.

Despite its flaws, this work delivers a well-deserved tribute to a group that’s been abused and overlooked; the volume should be useful for scholars and others seeking particular people, places, and themes for their research.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5186-8842-3

Page Count: 460

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2016

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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