Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are legendary stars of the American stage, television, and film, a beloved and revered couple cherished not just for their acting artistry but also for their lifelong commitment to civil rights, family values, and the black community. Now they look back on a half-century of their personal and political struggles to maintain a healthy marriage and to create the record of distinguished accomplishment that earned each a Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
With Ossie and Ruby overflows with consummate storytelling skill developed by decades in the spotlight. From their early years as struggling actors in Harlem’s black theater to Broadway and Hollywood stardom, they regale the reader with colorful, entertaining tales of the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met. But their charming humor is leavened with a more serious side, as they share their experiences of keeping a family together in a world where scandal and divorce is the rule, and of being artists and political activists in an era of intense racial ferment. Born into the struggle, their characters were shaped by the dynamic collisions of life, politics, and art; and from those experiences, they achieved some sense of their worth as married people, friends, and lovers.
Warm, positive, and compelling, this is a book that will surprise and challenge readers everywhere — black and white, male and female, young and old. Lifting the veil of public image, media hype, and mystique, Ossie and Ruby speak of the real-life dilemmas and rewards of their lifelong search for purpose and value.
Essence Magazine’s February 2014 book selections for Black History Month:
Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America
Sarah Rector was once famously hailed as ”the richest black girl in America.” Set against the backdrop of American history, her tale encompasses the creation of Indian Territory, the making of Oklahoma, and the establishment of black towns and oil-rich boomtowns. Rector acquired her fortune at the age of eleven. This is both her story and that of children just like her: one filled with ups and downs amid bizarre goings-on and crimes perpetrated by greedy and corrupt adults. From a trove of primary documents, including court and census records and interviews with family members, author Tonya Bolden painstakingly pieces together the events of Sarah’s life and the lives of those around her.
American Cocktail: A Colored Girl in the World
This is the rollicking, never-before-published memoir of a fascinating woman with an uncanny knack for being in the right place in the most interesting times. Of racially mixed heritage, Anita Reynolds was proudly African American but often passed for Indian, Mexican, or Creole. Actress, dancer, model, literary critic, psychologist, but above all free-spirited provocateur, she was, as her Parisian friends nicknamed her, an American cocktail. One of the first black stars of the silent era, she appeared in Hollywood movies with Rudolph Valentino, attended Charlie Chaplin’s anarchist meetings, and studied dance with Ruth St. Denis. She moved to New York in the 1920s and made a splash with both Harlem Renaissance elites and Greenwich Village bohemians. An émigré in Paris, she fell in with the Left Bank avant garde, befriending Antonin Artaud, Man Ray, and Pablo Picasso. Next, she took up residence as a journalist in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and witnessed firsthand the growing menace of fascism. In 1940, as the Nazi panzers closed in on Paris, Reynolds spent the final days before the French capitulation as a Red Cross nurse, afterward making a mad dash for Lisbon to escape on the last ship departing Europe.
The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America’s Most Progressive Era
Douglas R. Egerton
By 1870, just five years after Confederate surrender and thirteen years after the Dred Scott decision ruled blacks ineligible for citizenship, Congressional action had ended slavery and given the vote to black men. That same year, Hiram Revels and Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African-American U.S. senator and congressman respectively. In South Carolina, only twenty years after the death of arch-secessionist John C. Calhoun, a black man, Jasper J. Wright, took a seat on the state’s Supreme Court. Not even the most optimistic abolitionists had thought such milestones would occur in their lifetimes. The brief years of Reconstruction marked the United States’ most progressive moment prior to the civil rights movement. This history explores the state and local politics and tracing the struggles of some fifteen hundred African-American officeholders, in both the North and South, who fought entrenched white resistance.
Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South
On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in eighty-one minutes in Tattnall Prison’s electric chair. The executions were a record for the state that still stands today. The new prison, built with funds from FDR’s New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed rather than lynched were thought to be a sign of progress. They were anything but. While those men were arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed in as little as six weeks—E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state. Race and wealth were all that determined whether or not a man lived or died. There was no progress. There was no justice. A harrowing true story of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the violent death throes of the Klan, but most of all it is the story of the stunning injustice of these executions and how they have seared distrust of the legal system into the consciousness of the Deep South.
Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear
In 1962, James Meredith became a civil rights hero when he enrolled as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, he would make the news again when he reentered Mississippi, on foot. His plan was to walk from Memphis to Jackson, leading a “March Against Fear” that would promote black voter registration and defy the entrenched racism of the region. But on the march’s second day, he was shot by a mysterious gunman, a moment captured in a harrowing and now iconic photograph.
What followed was one of the central dramas of the civil rights era. With Meredith in the hospital, the leading figures of the civil rights movement flew to Mississippi to carry on his effort. They quickly found themselves confronting southern law enforcement officials, local activists, and one another. In the span of only three weeks, Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a vicious mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and the charismatic young activist Stokely Carmichael ﬁrst led the chant that would deﬁne a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.
Aram Goudsouzian’s Down to the Crossroads is the story of the last great march of the King era, and the ﬁrst great showdown of the turbulent years that followed. Depicting rural demonstrators’ courage and the impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire even bolder protests against it. Full of drama and contemporary resonances, this book is civil rights history at its best.
Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. David L. Chappell
A sweeping history of the struggle to keep the civil rights movement alive and to realize King’s vision of an equal society. In this arresting and groundbreaking account, David L. Chappell reveals that, far from coming to an abrupt end with King’s murder, the civil rights movement entered a new phase. It both grew and splintered. These were years when decisive, historic victories were no longer within reach—the movement’s achievements were instead hard-won, and their meanings unsettled. From the fight to pass the Fair Housing Act in 1968, to debates over unity and leadership at the National Black Political Conventions, to the campaign for full-employment legislation, to the surprising enactment of the Martin Luther King holiday, to Jesse Jackson’s quixotic presidential campaigns, veterans of the movement struggled to rally around common goals. Chappell chronicles the difficulties the movement encountered while working to build coalitions, pass legislation, and mobilize citizens in the absence of King’s galvanizing leadership. Could the civil rights coalition stay together as its focus shifted from public protests to congressional politics? Did the movement need a single, charismatic leader to succeed King, and who would that be? As the movement’s leaders pushed forward, they continually looked back, struggling to define King’s legacy and harness his symbolic power.
Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century
Monique W. Morris
A comprehensive guide filled with contemporary facts and figures on African Americansis an essential reference for anyone attempting to fathom the complex state of our nation. With fascinating and often surprising information on everything from incarceration rates, lending practices, and the arts to marriage, voting habits, and green jobs, the contextualized material in this book will better attune readers to telling trends while challenging commonly held, yet often misguided, perceptions. A compilation that at once highlights measures of incredible progress and enumerates the disparate impacts of social policies and practices, this book is a critical tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers.
Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music
Grammy Award-winning singer Angélique Kidjo is known for her electrifying voice and fearless advocacy work. In this intimate memoir, she reveals how she escaped Communist Africa to make her dreams a reality, and how she’s prompting others all around the world to reach for theirs as well. Born in the West African nation of Benin, Angélique Kidjo grew up surrounded by the rich sounds, rhythms, and storytelling of traditional Beninese culture. When the Communists took over, they silenced her dynamic culture and demanded that she sing in praise of them. Angélique reveals the details of her dangerous escape into France, and how she rose from poverty to become a Grammy Award–winning artist and an international sensation at the top of Billboard’s World Albums chart. She also explains why it’s important to give back by sharing stories from her work as a UNICEF ambassador and as founder of the Batonga Foundation, which gives African girls access to education.
Desmond Tutu has contributed the foreword to this remarkable volume; Alicia Keys has provided an introduction. Her eloquent, inspiring narrative is paired with more than one hundred colorful photographs documenting Angélique’s life and experiences, as well as a sampling of recipes that has sustained her on her remarkable odyssey.
The New York Times bestselling author of Sweetness delivers the first all-encompassing account of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of professional sports’ most-revered — and dominant — dynasties.
The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s personified the flamboyance and excess of the decade over which they reigned. Beginning with the arrival of Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the number-one overall pick of the 1979 draft, the Lakers played basketball with gusto and pizzazz, unleashing their famed “Showtime” run-and-gun style on a league unprepared for their speed and ferocity — and became the most captivating show in sports and, arguably, in all-around American entertainment. The Lakers’ roster overflowed with exciting all-star-caliber players, including center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and they were led by the incomparable Pat Riley, known for his slicked-back hair, his Armani suits, and his arrogant strut. Hollywood’s biggest celebrities lined the court and gorgeous women flocked to the arena. Best of all, the team was a winner. Between 1980 and 1991, the Lakers played in an unmatched nine NBA championship series, capturing five of them.
Bestselling sportswriter Jeff Pearlman draws from almost three hundred interviews to take the first full measure of the Lakers’ epic Showtime era. A dazzling account of one of America’s greatest sports sagas, Showtime is packed with indelible characters, vicious rivalries, and jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes stories of the players’ decadent Hollywood lifestyles.
From the Showtime era’s remarkable rise to its tragic end — marked by Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had contracted HIV — Showtime is a gripping narrative of sports, celebrity, and 1980s-style excess.
An authoritative history of the groundbreaking syndicated television show that has become an icon of American pop culture, from acclaimed author and filmmaker Nelson George, “the most accomplished black music critic of his generation” (Washington Post Book World).
When it debuted in October 1971, seven years after the Civil Rights Act, Soul Train boldly went where no variety show had gone before, showcasing the cultural preferences of young African-Americans and the sounds that defined their lives: R&B, funk, jazz, disco, and gospel music. The brainchild of radio announcer Don Cornelius, the show’s producer and host, Soul Train featured a diverse range of stars, from James Brown and David Bowie to Christine Aguilera and R. Kelly; Marvin Gaye and Elton John to the New Kids on the Block and Stevie Wonder.
The Hippest Trip in America tells the full story of this pop culture phenomenon that appealed not only to blacks, but to a wide crossover audience as well. Famous dancers like Rosie Perez and Jody Watley, performers such as Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, and Cornelius himself share their memories, offering insights into the show and its time — a period of extraordinary social and political change. Colorful and pulsating, The Hippest Trip In America is a fascinating portrait of a revered cultural institution that has left an indelible mark on our national consciousness.
A bare-knuckled, tell-all memoir from Mike Tyson, the onetime heavyweight champion of the world—and a legend both in and out of the ring. Philosopher, Broadway headliner, fighter, felon—Mike Tyson has defied stereotypes, expectations, and a lot of conventional wisdom during his three decades in the public eye. Bullied as a boy in the toughest, poorest neighborhood in Brooklyn, Tyson grew up to become one of the most thrilling and ferocious boxers of all time—and the youngest heavyweight champion ever. But his brilliance in the ring was often compromised by reckless behavior. Years of hard partying, violent fights, and criminal proceedings took their toll: by 2003, Tyson had hit rock bottom, a convicted felon, completely broke, the punch line to a thousand bad late-night jokes. Yet he fought his way back; the man who once admitted being addicted “to everything” regained his success, his dignity, and the love of his family.
With a triumphant one-man stage show, his unforgettable performances in the Hangover films, and his new found happiness and stability as a father and husband, Tyson’s story is an inspiring American original. Brutally honest, raw, and often hilarious, Tyson chronicles his tumultuous highs and lows in the same sincere, straightforward manner we have come to expect from this legendary athlete. A singular journey from Brooklyn’s ghettos to worldwide fame to notoriety, and, finally, to a tranquil wisdom, Undisputed Truth is not only a great sports memoir but an autobiography for the ages.
A brutally honest memoir of talent, addiction, and recovery from one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time. As a shy nineteen-year-old, Dwight Gooden swept into New York, lifting a team of crazy characters to World Series greatness and giving a beleaguered city a reason to believe. Then he threw it all away.
Now, with fresh and sober eyes, the Mets’ beloved Dr. K shares the intimate details of his life and career, revealing all the extraordinary highs and lows: The hidden traumas in his close-knit Tampa family. The thrill and pressure of being a young baseball phenom in New York. The raucous days and nights with the Mets’ bad boys (and the real reason he missed the 1986 World Series Victory Parade). The self-destructive drug binges and the three World Series rings. His heartbreaking attempts at getting sober, the senseless damage to family and friends, and the unexpected way he finally saved his life — on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.
In Doc, Gooden details his close friendships with many of baseball’s greats: Pete Rose, George Streinbrenner, Joe Torre, and nephew Gary Sheffield. For the first time ever, he reveals the full story of his troubled relationship with fellow Mets superstar Darryl Strawberry. And he tells the moving story of the Yankees no-hitter he pitched for his dying father. Doc is a riveting baseball memoir by one of the game’s most fascinating figures, and an inspiring story for anyone who has faced tough challenges in life.
The infamous boxing match between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield on June 28, 1997, was like none other in the sport’s history, and this insightful account of the anticipation, the gruesome fight itself, and the ongoing aftermath of that one night reveals just how much of an impact it really made. The rivals met for a rematch that would never be finished, as Tyson earned a disqualification and infamy that followed in the third round by biting off a portion of Holyfield’s ear. Through nearly 100 interviews, including with the famed fighters themselves, and extensive research of past interviews, books, and transcripts, this exploration of the sensational events surrounding the fight provides a behind-the-scenes, past and present look at the bout.
The Bite Fight: Tyson, Holyfield and the Night That Changed Boxing Forever
June 1, 2013
Hip hop icons and rap innovators, the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur continue to influence, define, and change the genre years after their deaths. Despite the controversies surrounding the murders of Tupac and Biggie, ultimately it’s their art that remains their biggest legacy. The music of Biggie Smalls and 2Pac has inspired the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and more. The legacies of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace — a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. — live on.
So does their rivalry, one of the greatest in music history. In 2pac vs. Biggie, hip hop experts Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey take an entirely new approach to investigation of that rivalry. Rather than focus on the countless conspiracy theories, they study the artist as artists, dissecting the lyrics of their hits (“California Love,” “All Eyez on Me,” “Changes” for 2pac, “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Hypnotize,” “Big Poppa” for Biggie) and lesser-known works, performance and rhythmic styles, aesthetic appearances and what those meant, rises to power, and of course, their lives after death. The feud between 2pac and Biggie is broken down and looked at from all new angles, bringing to light little-known and surprising sides to each rapper’s persona and inner world.
Illustrated throughout with photographs, memorabilia, and artwork inspired by Tupac and Biggie, and with insert “versus” pages dissecting topics such as each artist’s presence in movies, critical reception, and literary influences, this book is a must-have for all rap and hip hop fans.
“You have to bear in mind that [Questlove] is one of the smartest mother****ers on the planet. His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless.” –Robert Christgau
Mo’ Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone’s Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences–from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth. Mo’ Meta Blues also has some (many) random (or not) musings about the state of hip hop, the state of music criticism, the state of statements, as well as a plethora of run-ins with celebrities, idols, and fellow artists, from Stevie Wonder to KISS to D’Angelo to Jay-Z to Dave Chappelle to…you ever seen Prince roller-skate?!?
But Mo’ Meta Blues isn’t just a memoir. It’s a dialogue about the nature of memory and the idea of a post-modern black man saddled with some post-modern blues. It’s a book that questions what a book like Mo’ Meta Blues really is. It’s the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind.
It’s a rare gift that gives as well as takes.
It’s a record that keeps going around and around.
Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Grand Central Publishing
June 18, 2013
The rags-to-riches story of a groundbreaking, beloved entertainer
When The Flip Wilson Show debuted in 1970, black faces were still rare on television, black hosts nonexistent. So how did Clerow “Flip” Wilson go from Jersey City grade-school dropout to national celebrity, heralded on the cover of Time as “TV’s First Black Superstar”?
Flip is a candid, entertaining biography of a consummate comedian who changed the face of American popular culture. Kevin Cook chronicles Flip’s meteoric rise through the Chitlin’ Circuit of segregated nightclubs to his breakthrough on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show to his hit variety show, on which he created such outrageous and hilarious characters as the sassy Geraldine and flock-fleecing Reverend Leroy. As one of the biggest stars of his time, he performed and partied with Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and other stars of the 1970s.
Drawing on interviews with family, friends, and celebrities, Cook delivers the inspiring story of a complex man who broke the prime-time color barrier, blazing a trail for generations of African American performers who followed him.
Flip: The Inside Story of TV’s First Black Superstar
April 18, 2013
Today basketball is played “bove the rim” by athletes of all backgrounds and colors. But 50 years ago it was a floor-bound game, and the opportunities it offered for African-Americans were severely limited.
A key turning point was 1963, when the Loyola Ramblers of Chicago took the NCAA men’ basketball title from Cincinnati, the two-time defending champions. It was one of Chicago’s most memorable sports victories, but Ramblers reveals it was also a game for the history books because of the transgressive lineups fielded by both teams.
Ramblers is an entertaining, detail-rich look back at the unlikely circumstances that led to Loyola’s historic championship and the stories of two Loyola opponents: Cincinnati and Mississippi State. Michael Lenehan’s narrative masterfully intertwines these stories in dramatic fashion, culminating with the tournament’s final game, a come-from-behind overtime upset that featured two buzzer-beating shots.
While on the surface this is a book about basketball, it goes deeper to illuminate how sport in America both typifies and drives change in the broader culture. The stark social realities of the times are brought vividly to life in Lenehan’s telling, illustrating the challenges faced in teams’ efforts simply to play their game against the worthiest opponents.
Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963 – The Team that Changed the Color of College Basketball
March 12, 2013
Beyoncé is one of the world’s biggest pop stars–and this lavishly illustrated book is the first to celebrate the talented singer, songwriter, producer, and actress in the glam style she deserves! Since rising to fame with the R&B group Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé Knowles has enjoyed success after success, starting with her debut solo album, the multiplatinum, Grammy®-award winning Dangerously in Love. Beyoncé follows the artist’s life (including her marriage to hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and the birth of their daughter, Blue Ivy) and career, her wildly popular music, videos, and movies, and her role as a fashion icon.
In his no-holds-barred memoir, Sapp Attack!, Warren Sapp, one of the NFL’s most hilarious and candid personalities, reveals a side of football most fans have never before seen.
Big Man. Big Talent. Big Star. Big Mouth. Big Heart. Big Personality. Big Smile. Big Headlines. Warren Sapp, one of pro football’s most dominating defensive players both on and off the field, has a reputation for being bold, brash, knowledgeable, and outspoken. During his All-American career at the University of Miami, 13 seasons as an NFL star, four years on the NFL Network and one very big season on Dancing with the Stars, Sapp has never held back. Now he brings that same fearless attitude to his memoir, a book that will create controversy and headlines; in other words, pure Warren Sapp.
Sapp has won every award possible for a defensive player, but it wasn’t just his extraordinarily athletic ability that made him a star; it was also his ability to understand the subtleties of the game. He writes about working his way up from the high school gridiron to one of the top college football programs in the country, to the NFL, and reveals how the system actually works — the behind-the-scenes plays that fans rarely get to see.
He’ll discuss what it was like to face some of the greatest players in NFL history, including Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice, both of whom he put out of the game, and Bret Favre, whom he sacked eleven times during his career.
In this revealing, hilarious, and must-read book, Sapp offers readers a look inside the life of one of football’s biggest stars and shares his often controversial opinions about the state of pro football today and its future.
Sapp Attack: My Story Warren Sapp Thomas Dunne Books August 21, 2012 Hardcover
One of the most talented and polarizing athletes of our generation, Michael Vick’s stunning story has captured news headlines across the nation. From his poverty-stricken youth, to his success on the field in high school and college, to his rise to NFL stardom and his fall from grace, Finally Free shows how a gifted athlete’s life spiraled out of control under the glare of money and fame, aided by his own poor choices. In his own words, Vick details his regrets, his search for forgiveness, the moments of unlikely grace–and the brokenness that brought his redemption on the way to his celebrated return to the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Michael Vick, Forward by Tony Dungy
Available September 4, 2012 in Hardcover
Dwyane Wade, the eight-time All-Star for the Miami Heat, has miraculously defied the odds throughout his career and his life. In 2006, in just his third season in the NBA, Dwyane was named the Finals’ MVP, after leading the Miami Heat to the Championship title, basketball’s ultimate prize. Two years later, after possible career-ending injuries, he again rose from the ashes of doubt to help win a gold medal for the United States at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As co-captain, he helped lead the Heat to triumph in the 2012 NBA Championship. Little wonder that legendary coach Pat Riley has called Dwyane “B.I.W.” — ”Best In the World.”
As incredible as those achievements have been, it’s off the court where Dwyane has sought his most cherished goal: being a good dad to his sons, Zaire and Zion, by playing a meaningful role in their lives. Recounting his fatherhood journey, Dwyane begins his story in March 2011 with the news that after a long, bitter custody battle, he has been awarded sole custody of his sons in a virtually unprecedented court decision. A Father First chronicles the lessons Dwyane has learned as a single dad from the moment of the judge’s ruling that instantly changed his life and the lives of his boys, and then back to the events in the past that shaped his dreams, prayers, and promises.
As the son of divorced parents determined to get along so that he and his sister Tragil could have loving relationships with both of them, Dwyane’s early years were spent on Chicago’s South Side. With poverty, violence, and drugs consuming the streets and their mom descending into addiction, Tragil made the heroic decision to take her younger brother to live with their father. After moving his household to suburban Robbins, Illinois, Dwyane Wade Sr. became Dwyane’s first basketball coach. While this period laid the groundwork for Dwyane’s later mission for fathers to take greater responsibility for their kids, he was also inspired by his mother’s miraculous victory over addiction and her gift for healing others. Both his mother and his father showed him that the unconditional love between parents and children is a powerful guiding force.
In A Father First, we meet the coaches, mentors, and teammates who played pivotal roles in Dwyane’s stunning basketball career — from his early days shooting hoops on the neighborhood courts in Chicago, to his rising stardom at Marquette University in Milwaukee, to his emergence as an unheralded draft pick by the Miami Heat. This book is a revealing, personal story of one of America’s top athletes, but it is also a call to action — from a man who had to fight to be in his children’s lives — that will show mothers and fathers how to step up and be parents themselves.
A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball
Available September 4, 2012 in Hardcover
Wyclef Jean is one of the most influential voices in hip-hop. He rocketed to fame in the 1990s with the Fugees, whose multiplatinum album, The Score, would prove a landmark in music history, winning two Grammys and going on to become one of the bestselling hip-hop albums of all time. In Purpose, Wyclef recounts his path to fame from his impoverished childhood in “Baby Doc” Duvalier’s Haiti and the mean streets of Brooklyn and Newark to the bright lights of the world stage.
The son of a pastor and grandson of a Vodou priest, Wyclef was born and raised in the slums of Haiti, moving with his family to New York when he was nine. He lived in Brooklyn’s notorious Marlboro projects until his father, Gesner Jean, took them to Newark, where he converted a burnt-out funeral home into a house for his family and a church for his congregation. But life in New Jersey was no easier for Wyclef, who found it hard to shake his refugee status. Forced to act as a literal and cultural translator for his parents while still trying to master English himself, Wyclef soon learned that fitting in would be a constant struggle. He made his way by competing in “freestyle” rap battles, eventually becoming the best MC in his school. At the same time, Wyclef was singing in his father’s choir and learning multiple instruments while also avidly exploring funk, rock, reggae, and jazz — an experience that would forever shape his sound. When Wyclef chose to pursue a career in music over attending theological school, Gesner, who hated rap, nearly disowned him, creating a gulf between father and son that would take nearly a decade to bridge.
Within a few short years, Wyclef would catapult to international renown with the Fugees. In Purpose he details for the first time ever the inside story of the group: their rise and fall, and his relationships with Pras and Lauryn Hill.
Wyclef also looks back with candor at the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 and his efforts to help rebuild his homeland, including the controversy surrounding YÉle, his aid organization, and his exploratory bid for president of the island nation. The story revealed in Purpose is one of inspiration, full of drama and humor, told in compelling detail, about the incredible life of one of our most revered musical icons.
Many people came to Goldfield, Nevada, America’s last gold-rush town, to seek their fortune. However, on a searing summer day in September 1906, they came not to strike it rich but to watch what would become the longest boxing match of the twentieth century — between Joe Gans, the first African American boxing champion, and “Battling” Nelson, a vicious and dirty brawler. It was a match billed as the battle of the races.
In The Longest Fight, the longtime Washington Post sports correspondent William Gildea tells the story of this epic match, which would stretch to forty-two rounds and last two hours and forty-eight minutes. A new rail line brought spectators from around the country, dozens of reporters came to file blow-by-blow accounts, and an entrepreneurial crew’s film of the fight, shown in theaters shortly afterward, endures to this day.
The Longest Fight also recounts something much greater — the longer battle that Gans fought against prejudice as the premier black athlete of his time. It is a portrait of life in black America at the turn of the twentieth century, of what it was like to be the first black athlete to successfully cross the nation’s gaping racial divide. Gans was smart, witty, trim, and handsome — with one-punch knockout power and groundbreaking defensive skills — and his courage despite discrimination prefigured the strife faced by many of America’s finest athletes, including Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.
Inside the ring and out, Gans took the first steps for the African American athletes who would follow, and yet his role in history was largely forgotten until now. The Longest Fight is a reminder of the damage caused by the bigotry that long outlived Gans, and the strength, courage, and will of those who fought to rise above.
The definitive biography of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, with fascinating findings on his life as a Civil Rights activist, an entrepreneur, and the most innovative musician of our time
Playing 350 shows a year at his peak, with more than forty Billboard hits, James Brown was a dazzling showman who transformed American music. His life offstage was just as vibrant, and until now no biographer has delivered a complete profile. The One draws on interviews with more than 100 people who knew Brown personally or played with him professionally. Using these sources, award-winning writer RJ Smith draws a portrait of a man whose twisted and amazing life helps us to understand the music he made.
The One delves deeply into the story of a man who was raised in abject-almost medieval-poverty in the segregated South but grew up to earn (and lose) several fortunes. Covering everything from Brown’s unconventional childhood (his aunt ran a bordello), to his role in the Black Power movement, which used “Say It Loud (I’m Black and Proud)” as its anthem, to his high-profile friendships, to his complicated family life, Smith’s meticulous research and sparkling prose blend biography with a cultural history of a pivotal era.
At the heart of The One is Brown’s musical genius. He had crucial influence as an artist during at least three decades; he inspires pity, awe, and revulsion. As Smith traces the legend’s reinvention of funk, soul, R&B, and pop, he gives this history a melody all its own.
A personal and inspirational memoir from Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, focused on her amazing transformation as she embraced a healthy lifestyle and lost over eighty pounds.
Soulful and sultry, Jennifer Hudson wowed the world with her powerful voice in American Idol‘s third season, and then took Hollywood by storm with a star turn in Dreamgirls that won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. But before we knew her as an American Idol standout, Jennifer was singing in her church choir in the Southside of Chicago. This uplifting memoir tells the story of Jennifer’s meteoric rise from American Idol to Dreamgirls to her amazing weight loss on the megablockbuster Weight Watchers diet plan. With the Weight Watchers brand endorsing her, Jennifer gives her fans tips for embracing a healthy lifestyle in order to lose weight and reclaim their bodies. Full of stories from her American Idol days, her experience acting in Dreamgirls, and how her son inspired her to want to live healthfully, this book is a gift for her millions of fans and an inspiration for anyone struggling with weight issues.
When Meb Keflezighi won the New York City Marathon in 2009 — the first American to do so in 27 years — some critics questioned whether the Eritrean-born runner was “really” an American despite his citizenship status and representing the USA on two Olympic and several World Championship teams. Yet Meb is the living embodiment of the American dream. His family came to the U.S. to escape from a life of poverty and a violent war with Ethiopia; Meb was 12 at the time, spoke no English, and had never raced a mile. Yet he became an A student and a high school state and national champion. And when he stood on the platform as a silver medalist in the 2004 Olympics, Meb knew his hard work and determination had paid off. How could life be any better?
Then it all came crashing down. Meb, a favorite for the Beijing Olympics, fractured his pelvis during the trials and was left literally crawling. His close friend and fellow marathoner suffered a cardiac arrest at the trials and died that same day. Devastated, Meb was about to learn whether his faith in God, the values his parents had taught him, and his belief that he was born to run were enough to see him through.
Run to Overcome tells the inspirational story of a man who discovered the real meaning of victory, and who embodies the American spirit of overcoming the odds.
Run to Overcome: : The Inspiring Story of an American Champion’s Long-Distance Quest to Achieve a Big Dream
by Meb Keflezighi, Joan Benoit Samuelson (Foreword), Dick Patrick (Contributor)