Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Top ten under-appreciated books on race

For The Root, John McWhorter named a top ten list of books on race that should be more widely read.

One title on the list:
Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle (2004)

Are as many people getting to this one as they should? It didn’t win the National Book Award for nothing. Ossian Sweet, a black doctor in 1925 Detroit, moved into a house in a white neighborhood, only to face down a racist mob and shoot one of its members dead. The NAACP came in to defend him, complete with none other than the legendary Clarence Darrow, giving us a look at him beyond the Scopes trial he is most known for today. Boyle’s book shows what happened at the tipping point in Northern cities between the pre-Great Migration phase, when there weren’t enough blacks to seem threatening to whites and the later one, when there were enough blacks that the North became the South. Some Amazon reviewers mistake this book as a “novel,” and it’s because Boyle is a fantastic chronicler. “History written with lightning,” Woodrow Wilson called D.W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation. Same with this book.
Read about the other nine books on McWhorter's list.

--Marshal Zeringue