New works on Black history have been pouring in throughout the past year. As Black History Month nears, it is time to take a closer look at the offerings. If there is a trend in subject matter, it is that most of the latest books appear to be on sharply focused, narrow, but nevertheless appealing topics that history has neglected or viewed differently in the past. Here are some brief sketches for our annual roundup.
African American History Reconsidered (New Black Studies Series), by Pero Dagbovie, $25, University of Illinois Press, March 2010, ISBN-10: 0252077016, ISBN-13: 978-0252077012, pp. 280.
An associate professor of history at Michigan State University assesses the state of scholarship on and the teaching of African-American history, examining its past, present and future as a field of study.
Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, by Bruce Watson, $27.95, Viking Adult, June 2010, ISBN-10: 0670021709, ISBN-13: 978-0670021703, pp. 384.
The subtitle encapsulates the historic episode recounted in this book, but through sharp detail and vivid narrative, this seasoned author brings out the drama and significance of the daring acts and deadly events that transpired in Mississippi in the summer of 1964 and that pierced the conscience of a nation.
Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King Jr., by Lewis Baldwin, with a foreword by Wyatt Tee Walker, $16.95, Fortress Press, September 2010, ISBN-10: 0800697448, ISBN-13: 978-0800697440, pp. 176.
A Vanderbilt University religion professor probes the heart, soul and mind of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the first book to show how he harnessed the power of prayer in his personal life and in the movement he shepherded.
Race and Renaissance: African Americans in Pittsburgh since World War II, by Joe W. Trotter and Jared N. Day, $29.95, University of Pittsburgh Press, June 2010, ISBN-10: 0822943913, SBN-13: 978-0822943914, pp. 304.
Two Carnegie Mellon University professors detail the history of African-American life in Pittsburgh after the Second World War. Steel was the magnet that had long brought Blacks there, and their percentage of the population swelled from 12 percent to 20 percent from 1950 to 1970. Many arrived as employment opportunities were declining, however, and Blacks bore the brunt of post-industrialization. The authors drew on interviews, oral histories, news accounts and other sources to produce a rare, in-depth look at urban history in a city with a rich Black cultural life. …