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The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country Paperback – 8 Jan 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (8 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684864150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684864150
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,928,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
W. E. B. Du Bois was the greatest African-American intellectual figure of the twentieth century and one of the most influential black political thinkers before Martin Luther King, Jr. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Great Reference: Just Understand Its Purposes 9 Mar. 2001
By "rrr338" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Even though this book gives brief biographical sketches of significant African Americans, I still give it five stars for the following reasons:
1) It is a very neatly organized resource for notable African-Americans, that can give quick and accurate information about these people and their times. I like that each page clearly shows the decade during which that person made major accomplishments. For each person profiled, there is at least one photo, and a provocative, "boxed" quote.
2) This kind of book is desperately needed by most of America's schoolteachers. Many are not well-informed about the achievements of African-Americans, and here they get a quick, clear, and stimulating profile of many who made major contributions. Further, Professors Gates and West provide a bibliography that leads the reader to at least one significant in-depth work about each person profiled, so those who want to know more are "pointed in the right direction."
3) While there are some sports and entertainment figures, I don't think there is any bias in that direction. With personages like Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron, you MUST include them in a work like this because they really transcended sports, and became larger-than-life symbols of social issues.
4) Professors Cornel West and Henry Gates Jr. write in a very clear manner, and don't candy-coat their subject manner. They point out the contradictions in many of these peoples' lives, mention their social critics, and demonstrate that meaningful lives are seldom neat and tidy ones. To professors Gates and West, I say "Thanks, fellas, for not coming across like the stereotypical "stuffy Harvard scholars!"

Finally, if you know of a school teacher who is well-intended about teaching more about African American history, but maybe can benefit from an attractively presented and easily accessible resource book, think of this as a thoughtful gift to that person. Next time February (Black History Month) rolls around, they will have lots of suggestions for class projects and pupil reports.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Bonita L. Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
What would the 20th century in America look like without the contributions of its African-American citizens? Henry Gates and Cornel West take up that very question in chronicling how African-Americans shaped the culture of the United States. The authors profile African-Americans from each decade of the 20th century and show how their accomplishments have impacted upon the country.
Overall the authors have produced a good book for coffee table discussions and stimulating conversations about African American contributions. Its weakness lies in the fact that most of these persons are already known, it leans heavily towards those in the field of entertainment and many of the essays are unclear as to what the person contributed beyond being the first Black in their field.
Another element missing is the lack of information regarding what was going on in the person's particular decade that enabled them to achieve against the odds. The African American Century falls short in giving you a full comprehensive look at what Blacks achieved throughout the decades. You are left with individual biographical portraits of those who "made it". I recommend the book as a referance guide for those unaquainted with the persons profiled. Perhaps the authors will come up with another volume that is more comprehensive of the achievements of African Americans in fields other than entertainment and sports.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Our History: None Like No Other! 7 Dec. 2000
By acrumity - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The African-American Century: How Black Americans Have Shaped Our Country by Cornel West and Henry Louis, Jr. Gates is an A+ reference book of Black historical figures who have contributed to and have transformed the life of the Black American in the making of America over the past 100 years. Decade by decade the authors give memorable history "sessions" about some of the greatest achievements made by these Americans in shaping a Democratic society, despite issues of racism, bigotry and the mere struggle to survive. I would recommend this book to anybody as an addition to your collection in your family library because in a true light, it embraces a positive understanding and influences made by even the most controversial figures or role models throughout the 20th century. I bought this book as a gift, but I'm glad I kept it for myself!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nice but could be better.. 22 Feb. 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The publication is a fine read for a person of any race and most ages (10 & above). However, I feel that the last sections of the book place excessive emphasis on contemporary cultural "pop" figures, i.e., persons in show business and sports. Too many black notables in the sciences and fine arts are ignored.
As a previous reviewer noted, perhaps a future edition will be more balanced and will give the American Negro proper credit for invaluable contributions to our culture and society.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Very good and informative book 21 Feb. 2002
By thesavvybamalady - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found "The African American Century" to be informative and at times entertaining. Most of the time, real proud. I am planning on giving out copies as prizes for our African American History program at church. However, at times, I found some of the information and dates to be inaccurate. Despite that, it is a great book to give to schools and children, and it is highly recommended by me.
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