December 15, 2016 Booklist 13 www.booklistonline.com
(“I love being your wife and the mother of your children,” she recounts
telling Martin. “But if that’s all I am to do, I’ll go crazy.”) King was
undoubtedly a singular woman, and readers will be struck by just how
strongly her exceedingly compelling story resonates today. She was much
more than just the woman behind the man, and now, in the most eloquent of language, she proves that truth once and for all to generations
of readers who will embrace her all over again. —Colleen Mondor
YA/C: The civil rights movement is a perennial research topic for
teens and this accessible memoir should be considered an immediate
go-to selection. CM.
No Wall Too High: One Man’s Daring Escape from Mao’s
By Xu Hongci. Tr. by Erling Hoh.
Jan. 2017. 336p. Farrar/Sarah Crichton, $26 (9780374212629). 951.05.
An intellectually exuberant, politically engaged student in Shanghai
in the 1950s, Xu was a Communist but ran afoul of Maoist orthodoxy
and was branded a “Rightist” and sentenced to imprisonment and hard
labor in the Láodòng Gaizào (“reform through labor”) system. The
next 14 years were a blur of prisons and work camps in western China,
each bleaker than the last. He mined copper in damp caves, bore heavy
loads up steep slopes, worked as a medical orderly giving fake injections, and sat shackled in solitary. His malnourished body deteriorated.
Yet Xu remained generally adaptable and optimistic, learning what
he could from his surroundings and enjoying brief camaraderie with
other prisoners even as the seriousness of his original “crime” seemed
to grow over time, and sudden execution remained a possibility. Xu’s
account of his escape through the desert into Mongolia is thrilling,
yet this is ultimately less an adventure story than an act of historical
witness, offering a rare and unflinching first-hand description of the
cruelty of the Chinese gulag. —Brendan Driscoll
Ojibwa: People of Forests and Prairies.
By Michael G. Johnson.
2016. 160p. illus. Firefly, $35 (9781770858008). 977.004.
Prehistoric Great Lakes people left evidence of their lives dating back
to 5000 BCE. The Ojibwa, a term encompassing many groups, lived
throughout that vast region on bountiful land that is now located in
both the U.S. and Canada, adapting to diverse habitats, from dense
evergreen and leafy forests to grasslands and prairies. They were hunters, farmers, traders, warriors, and artists. Native American expert
Johnson (Arts & Crafts of the Native American Tribes, 2011) succinctly covers Ojibwa history, then moves on to a spirited survey of the
Ojibwa experience as reflected in material culture. In this inviting volume, paintings, images of artifacts, archival photographs, and other
illustrations appear on every page in concert with a smoothly flowing,
information-rich narrative. Johnson explicates the design, creation,
and significance of different types of canoes, wigwams, and clothing.
The rich array of styles (beaded, embroidered) and designs (organic,
geometric) reflects the diversity of the Ojibwa world. With annotated
listings of key individuals and places, Johnson’s overview establishes
an illuminating historical context and captures the ongoing vitality of
Ojibwa culture and life. —Donna Seaman
Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary.
By Bill Banfield.
Jan. 2017. 168p. illus. Rowman & Littlefield, $45 (9781442229730); e-book, $44.99
Jazz saxophonist Laurdine “Pat” Patrick performed and recorded
with such diverse artists as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Quincy
Jones, Nat King Cole, and Marvin Gaye. But he is most associated
with the Sun Ra Arkestra, in which he spent much of 35 years laying
down the bottom with his baritone saxophone, creating a distinctive
sound that is instantly identifiable to anyone familiar with the Sun Ra
catalog. A little-known jazz fact is that Patrick’s son is Deval Patrick,
former governor of Massachusetts. Deval supplied the treasure trove of
personal papers, scrapbooks, news clippings, and photographs salvaged
from his father’s effects that form the bulk of material compiled by
Banfield for this treatment. There are also interviews from surviving
band members, who provide a glimpse into Patrick’s good-natured per-
sonality and what it was like to survive in an avant-garde jazz big band
while living on a shoestring. A nice companion piece to A Pure Solar
World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism (2016). —David Siegfried
Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism.
By Nancy Wang Yuen.
Dec. 2016. 208p. Rutgers, paper, $22.95 (9780813586298). 791.43089.
Racial bias in the film industry is not only a trending topic but also
a real and pervasive problem in the industry. A lack of diversity on
either side of the camera results in films and television programs full
of stereotypes and a dearth of opportunity for actors and other creative professionals of color. Yuen, an associate professor of sociology
in California, investigates the culture of Hollywood, where those in
charge are overwhelmingly white and male, and whose decisions and
choices in casting, hiring, and programming reflect that fact. Her own
interviews with nearly one hundred working actors and the published
interviews she cites with such current celebrities as Viola Davis, Chris
Rock, Gina Rodriguez, and Lucy Liu provide a personal look at what
it is like to succeed in this environment. In addition to a persuasive
narrative, there are suggestions for readers who wish to take action
and a list of media advocacy organizations. Anyone interested in who
is “in the room where it happens” and who is left out will applaud this
thoughtful treatise. —Carolyn Mulac
Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin.
By Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin.
Jan. 2017. 352p. Random, $26 (9780812997231). 363.2.
Fulton and Martin’s beloved 17-year-old son, Trayvon, for whom they
True South: Henry Hampton and Eyes on the Prize, the
had the highest aspirations, was going through a rough
patch in early 2012. Though the couple was divorced,
Fulton, who worked for the Miami-Dade housing au-
thority, and Martin, a truck driver, remained equally
close to their son. Both felt that it would do Trayvon
good to get out of Miami for a little vacation with
Martin’s girlfriend and her son in their safe, gated com-
munity in Sanford, Florida. Instead, Trayvon, walking
in the rain, wearing a hoodie, and talking on his cell
phone, was shot dead by a neighborhood-watch volunteer. As the fifth an-
niversary of this tragic crime nears, Fulton and Martin share a remarkably
candid and deeply affecting in-the-moment chronicle of the explosive
aftermath of the murder. Writing in alternate chapters, they share every
detail of their shock, grief, and grueling quest for justice as their pri-
vate loss became a public cause inspiring prominent figures to speak out
and tens of thousands to express their support on the streets and online.
Given the unconscionable shooting deaths of young black men, many by
police, that followed Trayvon’s, this galvanizing testimony from parents
who channeled their sorrow into action offers a deeply humanizing per-
spective on the crisis propelling a national movement. —Donna Seaman
YA: Teens will be profoundly moved and deeply informed by seeing
the Trayvon Martin case through the eyes of the 17-year-old’s grieving
parents as they courageously fight for justice. DS.
Landmark Television Series That Reframed the Civil
By Jon Else.
Jan. 2017. 432p. Viking, $30 (9781101980934). 323.4.
Distinguished documentarian and MacArthur fellow Else has written
a hard-driving, avidly detailed, and dramatic history
of the making of Eyes on the Prize, the pioneering
1987 television documentary series about the civil
rights movement. His uniquely knowing account is
powered by his adventures as series producer and enriched by his vivid and admiring portrait of Henry
Hampton (1940–98), the visionary genius and polio
survivor who created the series. Their close working
relationship was rooted in their experiences working
in the early voter-registration efforts in the South. Else crisply illumi-