Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Finds: May 22

I always both love and hate doing Friday Finds hosted by Shouldbereading. I love it because it is one of the only times I allow items to be added to my TBR shelf. I hate it because I have to limit myself and be selective. It is hard to be selective when there are so many good books out there to read.
This Friday I bring you five finds from my google reader (some are rather old). All summaries are from Google Books.

The first two books are non-fiction and curtosey of Black Girl..... Lost in a Book

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen

The explosive story of racial exclusion in the north, from the American Book Award-winning author of Lies My Teacher Told Me As American as apple pie: • Most suburbs in the United States were originally sundown towns. • As part of the deepening racism that
swept through the United States after 1890, town after town outside the traditional South became intentionally all-white, evicting their black populations with tactics that ranged from intimidation to outright violence. • From Myakka City, Florida, to Kennewick, Washington, the nation is dotted with thousands of all-white towns that are (or were until recently) all-white on purpose. Sundown towns can be found in almost every state. "Don't let the sun go down on you in this town." We equate these words with the Jim Crow South but, in a sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, award-winning and bestselling author James W. Loewen demonstrates that strict racial exclusion was the norm in American towns and villages from sea to shining sea for much of the twentieth century. Weaving history, personal narrative, and hard-nosed analysis, Loewen shows that the sundown town was—and is—an American institution with a powerful and disturbing history of its own, told here for the first time. In Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, sundown towns were created in waves of violence in the early decades of the twentieth century, and then maintained well into the contemporary era. Sundown Towns redraws the map of race relations, extending the lines of racial oppression through the backyard of millions of Americans—and lobbing an intellectual hand grenade into the debates over race and racism today.

Burried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America by Elliot Jaspin

"Leave now, or die!" From the heart of the Midwest to the Deep South, from the mountains of North Carolina to the Texas frontier, words like these have echoed through more than a century of American history. The call heralded not a tornado or a hurricane, but a very unnatural disaster--a manmade wave of racial cleansing that purged black populations from counties across the nation. We have long known about horrific episodes of lynching in the South, but the story of widespread racial cleansing--above and below the Mason-Dixon line--has remained almost entirely unknown. Time after time, in the period between Reconstruction and the 1920s, whites banded together to drive out the blacks in their midst. They burned and killed indiscriminately and drove thousands from their homes, sweeping entire counties clear of blacks to make them racially "pure." The expulsions were swift--in many cases, it took no more than twenty-four hours to eliminate an entire African-American population. Shockingly, these areas remain virtually all-white to this day. Based on nearly a decade of painstaking research in archives and census records, Buried in the Bitter Waters provides irrefutable evidence that racial cleansing occurred again and again on American soil, and fundamentally reshaped the geography of race. In this groundbreaking book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Elliot Jaspin has rewritten American history as we know it. The Mob Formed a Skirmish Line Along The RailRoad Tracks about fifty yards from the Negro Quarter and began riddling homes with gunfire. But they soon ran out of ammunition, and they turned back towards the Armory on Walnut Street. There they rearmed, this time with army rifles. Theyreturned to the Negro Quarter, and this time some crossed the tracks and began setting homes on fire. There were fifteen people crammed into the basement of the Cobb's small wood-framed house. As they crouched in terror in the basement, they realized the only escape was to the south. They would have to run through the Negro Quarter, wade a stream called Clear Creek and then race up a small hill and into the tree line. It was a distance of about 400 yards over open ground. The light from the burning buildings would illuminate every step. But once they got to the woods they would be safe. They had no choice. they crawled up the stairs and one by one they burst out of the house and bolted towards the creek. Rifles cracked behind them, and they could hear the zip of bullets on either side. Some stumbled as they crossed the creek and lay there, too frightened to go farther. On the gentle rise above the town where the whites lived, people stood on the sidewalk watching the spectacle below. Later, one woman recalled that night. "We sat out on the walks all night until 3 o'clock in the morning watching the breaking in of the jail, the hanging, and the burning of the buildings. I couldn't keep from laughing at times at the strange things people did but all in all t'was a serious matter."

From She is Too Fond of Books
(two Finds)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The book everyone is falling in love with . . .
In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. Black maids raise the white children, but no one trusts them not to steal the silver. Black maids clean the toilets, but they have their own out back. Everyone stays within the lines. But, suddenly, three womenaAibileen, Minny, and Skeeterafind themselves tired of the lines.
Aibileen is a black maid, raising her seventeenth white child. She is a smart, regal woman, but a bitter seed has been planted in Aibileenas chest after the death of her son. Aibileenas best friend, Minny, is the sassiest woman in Mississippi, and goes through jobs like water. And Skeeter is just back from college, a white woman with a degree but, to her motheras chagrin, no ring on her finger. Too tall and too smart for her own good, she now discovers her beloved maid Constantine has disappeared without a trace.
Seemingly as different as can be, these women will come together for a clandestine project that will put all of them at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way womenablack and white, mothers and daughtersaview one another.

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

From a young writer who radiates charisma and talent comes a sweeping, stylish historical novel of Jamaican slavery that can be compared only to Toni Morrisons Beloved. The Book of Night Womenis a sweeping, startling novela true tour de force of both voice and storytellingthat tells the story of a young slave woman on a sugar plantation in Jamaica at the turn of the nineteenth century, revealing a world and a culture that is both familiar and entirely new. Lilith is born into slavery, and even at her birth, the slave women around her recognize a dark power that theyand she will come to both revere and fear. The Night Women, as they call themselves, have long been conspiring to stage a slave revolt, and as Lilith comes of age they see her as the key to andas she reveals the extent of her power and begins to understand her own desires and feelingspotentially the weak link in their plans. Liliths story overflows with high drama and heartbreak, and life on the plantation is rife with dangerous secrets, unspoken jealousies, inhuman violence, and very human emotion between slave and master, between slave and overseer, and among the slaves themselves. Lilith finds herself at the heart of it all. And all of it told in one of the boldest literary voices to recently grace the pageand the secret of that voice is one of the books most suspenseful, satisfying mysteries. The real revelation of the bookthe secret to the stirring imagery and insistent proseis Marlon James himself, a young writer at once wholly in command of his craft and breathtakingly daring, spinning his magical web of humanity, race, and love, fully inhabiting the incredibly rich nineteenth-century Jamaican patois that rings with a distinctly contemporary energy.

Last but not least from Becky's Book Review
(I don't think this one has been published yet, all information from Westside Books)
Between Us Baxters by Bethany Hegedus

It’s hard to be a "Black Sheep Baxter," at least for 12-year-old Polly. From a poor white family, Polly’s best friend, Timbre Ann Biggs, is black, making them the only "salt-and-pepper" friends in town. Her mom keeps secrets, her dad turns to the "devil’s drink," and her rich, mean Meemaw makes Sunday dinners a chore. But in that fall of 1959, life in quiet Holcolm County starts to heat up. One by one, thriving colored businesses burn to the ground. When someone throws a note wrapped around a brick through the window of Biggs Repair, Polly worries that Timbre Ann will be blinded by the color of her skin and forget they were ever as close as Polly’s mom and Timbre Ann’s Aunt Henri have always been. When a tragic fire brings everything to a head, the spotlight falls on Polly’s family. Sensitively painting a vivid portrait of the Jim Crow South, Polly’s inspiring story captures the defiant spirit of youth in an oppressive small town, just as the seeds of the Civil Rights Movement begin to sprout.

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