October 21, 1998
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.
Unlike the more forthrightly mythic origins of other urban centers — think Rome via Romulus and Remus or Mexico City via the god Huitzilopochtli — Los Angeles emerged from a smoke-and-mirrors process that is simultaneously literal and figurative, real and imagined, material and metaphorical, physical and textual. Through penetrating analysis and personal engagement, Vincent Brook uncovers the many portraits of this ever-enticing, ever-ambivalent, and increasingly multicultural megalopolis. Divided into sections that probe Los Angeles’s checkered history and reflect on Hollywood’s own self-reflections, the book shows how the city, despite considerable remaining challenges, is finally blowing away some of the smoke of its not always proud past and rhetorically adjusting its rear-view mirrors.
Part I is a review of the city’s history through the early 1900s, focusing on the seminal 1884 novel Ramona and its immediate effect, but also exploring its ongoing impact through interviews with present-day Tongva Indians, attendance at the 88th annual Ramona pageant, and analysis of its feature film adaptations.
Brook deals with Hollywood as geographical site, film production center, and frame of mind in Part II. He charts the events leading up to Hollywood’s emergence as the world’s movie capital and explores subsequent developments of the film industry from its golden age through the so-called New Hollywood, citing such self-reflexive films as Sunset Blvd., Singin’ in the Rain, and The Truman Show.
Part III considers LA noir, a subset of film noir that emerged alongside the classical noir cycle in the 1940s and 1950s and continues today. The city’s status as a privileged noir site is analyzed in relation to its history and through discussions of such key LA noir novels and films as Double Indemnity, Chinatown, and Crash.
In Part IV, Brook examines multicultural Los Angeles. Using media texts as signposts, he maps the history and contemporary situation of the city’s major ethno-racial and other minority groups, looking at such films as Mi Familia (Latinos), Boyz N the Hood (African Americans), Charlotte Sometimes (Asians), Falling Down (Whites), and The Kids Are All Right (LGBT).
Land of Smoke and Mirrors: A Cultural History of Los Angeles
Rutgers University Press
January 22, 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.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Francis Ray is a native Texan and lives in Dallas. INCOGNITO, her sixth title, was the first made-for-TV movie for BET. Her literary fiction series- Taggart and Falcon, the Invincible Women, Grayson Family of New Mexico, and Grayson Friends have consistently made bestseller’s lists, and are enjoyed by readers world-wide. She has written forty-nine books to date. Awards include Romantic Times Career Achievement, EMMA, The Golden Pen, Atlantic Choice, and Borders 2008 Romance Award for bestselling Multicultural Romance for NOBODY BUT YOU. IF YOU WERE MY MAN was selected as Written 2010 Book of the Year.
Ms. Ray had four books published or re-released in 2011, and six scheduled for 2012. She enjoys writing fiction, where intelligent women through hard work and perseverance triumph over adversity, just as they do in real life.
I Know Who Holds Tomorrow
In her mind’s eyes, she could see Wes, tall and elegant in his tailored tuxedo with a patterned vest, black tie, and snow white pocket square. Her red Valentino slip gown highlighted her honey-eyed complexion and chocolate brown eyes. The gown also picked up the red in Wes’s vest and the red in the rose in his lapel.
They were the perfect couple and it was show time. And she wanted to scream.
Madison Reed, popular talk show host and America’s darling and her husband, well-known TV correspondent Wes Reed is everyone’s idea of the perfect couple. But now after the loss of their child, they became no more than polite strangers, maintaining the facade, revealing only picture perfect happiness. But Madison’s world is turned upside down when Wes is critically injured in a car accident and a woman is killed. Before he dies, Wes confesses that the woman who was killed was his mistress—and that he is the father of her nine-month-old daughter, Manda. He begs Madison to raise the child. Unsure if she can, Madison struggles to take charge of her fate and put her life back together. Overwhelmed, she accepts the help of Zachary Holman, her husband’s best friend, only to discover that his life is also shrouded by lies. Can she forgive and forget—not just once, but twice?
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
October 30, 2012
Mass Market Paperback
When Morning Comes, Book 2 of the Family Affair series
Dr. Cade Mathis learned early that he was not the son of the man who raised him. His adoptive father, a cruel, bitter man had always been quick to tell him that he was a bastard and an embarrassment to the rich society family whose daughter got pregnant with him. So when Cade received a full scholarship to college, he was only too happy to leave the only home he had ever known behind and never looked back.
Now a successful doctor and one of the best neurosurgeons in the state, the only thing he still wants are answers about where he came from. What he doesn’t expect to find is Sabrina Thomas, the new patient advocate at his hospital or how this woman will lead him to the family he has been searching for and a love he never expected to find.
A Dangerous Kiss, book 3 of the Kiss Trilogy and book 7 of the Grayson Friends series
Payton “Sin” Sinclair lives up to his name when it comes to the ladies: this hot-bodied athlete is all about playing the field. But when it comes to love, Sin plays it safe. Sin hides a dangerous secret from everyone, even his sweetly supportive friend, Summer. She’s a breezily efficient restaurant owner with her own secrets, and over the years she’s relied on Sin for emotional support. Everything changes when Sin’s friends start coupling off, leaving him lonely and worried about his heart’s future. Then Summer gets involved with planning her cousin’s wedding, and you know how weddings play on the emotions. Suddenly, Sin finds himself flirting with Summer, and she’s surprisingly receptive. But they both know danger lurks in every kiss.
The Oprah Winfrey Show came to an end on May 25, 2011, after 25 years on television. Arguably the most influential television personality of all time, Ms. Winfrey and her show have had an impact on American culture that cannot be overstated. This beautifully illustrated book will explore and celebrate the legacy of the show using essays and tributes from a stellar group of contributors including Maya Angelou, Bono, Ellen DeGeneres, Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, Julia Roberts, Maria Shriver, Gloria Steinem, John Travolta, and more. The book will feature photographs from the Harpo archive, spanning the 25 years the show has been on the air, including the farewell season.
Essays within the book will be dedicated to different themes (e.g., personal growth, social action, and literature) and will explore how the show has touched people’s lives and impacted the conversation around those issues. The essays will be followed by narrative text, which will guide the reader through the history of the show’s involvement with each topic and will include stories about the events, people, and organizations that have acted as touchstones or provided insights along the way. Accompanying the essays and narrative text will be images from the show, behind-the-scenes photographs, as well as signature portraits of the contributing celebrities taken by noted photographers.
The book will allow Oprah Winfrey Show fans to understand the broad cultural impact of the show, while revisiting favorite guests, episodes, and stories.
You Don’t Know Me: Reflections of My Father, Ray Charles
by Ray Charles Robinson Jr., with Mary Jane Ross
A deeply personal memoir of the private Ray Charles – the man behind the legend – by his eldest son.
Ray Charles is an American music legend. A multiple Grammy Award-winning composer, pianist, and singer with an inimitable vocal style and a catalog of hits including “What I Say,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Unchain My Heart,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and “America the Beautiful,” Ray Charles’s music is loved by fans around the world.
Now his eldest son, Ray Charles Robinson Jr., shares an intimate glimpse of the man behind the music, with never-before-told stories. Going beyond the fame, the concerts, and the tours, Ray Jr. opens the doors of his family home and reveals their private lives with fondness and frankness.
He shares his father’s grief and guilt over his little brother’s death at the age of five — as well of moments of personal joy, like watching his father run his hands over the Christmas presents under their tree while singing softly to himself. He tells of how Ray overcame the challenges of being blind, even driving cars, riding a Vespa, and flying his own plane. And, in gripping detail, he reveals how as a six-year-old boy he saved his father’s life one harrowing night.
Ray Jr. writes honestly about the painful facts of the addiction that nearly destroyed his father’s life. His father’s struggles with heroin addiction, his arrests, and how he ultimately kicked the drug cold turkey are presented in unflinching detail. Ray Jr. also shares openly about how, as an adult, he fell victim to the same temptations that plagued his father.
He paints a compassionate portrait of his mother, Della, whose amazing voice as a gospel singer first attracted Ray Charles. Though her husband’s drug use, his womanizing, and the paternity suits leveled against him constantly threatened the stability of the Robinson home, Della exhibited incredible resilience and inner strength.
Told with deep love and fearless candor, You Don’t Know Me is the powerful and poignant story of the Ray Charles the public never saw — the father and husband and fascinating human being who also happened to be one of the greatest musicians of all time.
Available June 8, 2010 in Hardcover
Dream So Big: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Believe and Achieve
by Christopher B. Pearman (Author), Ian Blake Newhem (Author), Raven-Symone (Foreword)
Available May 18, 2010 in Hardcover
While so many talented and ambitious kids have become tabloid fodder, Raven-Symon, beloved star of That’s So Raven, has remained grounded and happy as she’s created a massive franchise for Disney, won multiple Kids’ Choice Awards, and made history as the first African-American woman with her own sitcom. The difference? Her parents’ positive-approach plan–which you can now use with your own children.
As her father and manager, Christopher B. Pearman worked tirelessly to nurture Raven’s dream, while teaching her to believe in herself and, most importantly, never losing sight of their family’s core values. Inside, Pearman breaks down his plan into eight “Dream Catchers”–spiritual and practical principles that filter out negativity, and allow only affirming thoughts into your child’s consciousness. Make no mistake: This is not a guide to stage parenting, but a doctrine for raising your kids to reach their full potential in any endeavor, simple or grand.
As a parent, you know there’s nothing more important than making sure your children become all they want to be. Dream So Big shows how commitment, responsibility, and dedication to your children’s innermost wishes can catapult them to great success–and happiness.
Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
Available 04/16/10 in Hardcover
In the twentieth century, African Americans not only helped make popular music the soundtrack of the American experience, they advanced American music as one of the preeminent shapers of the world’s popular culture. Vast numbers of black American musicians deserve credit for this remarkable turn of events, but a few stand out as true giants. David Stricklin‘s superb new biography explores the life of one of them, Louis Armstrong.
University Of Chicago Press
Available 05/01/10 in Hardcover
Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the lasting international cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, pathbreaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights and America’s role in the world.
With “Duke Ellington’s America”, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle-class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of world-wide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business-as well as issues of race, equality, and religion. Ellington’s own voice, mean-while, animates the book throughout, giving “Duke Ellington’s America” an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account. By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, “Duke Ellington’s America” highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music.
Killing Willis: From Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted
by Todd Bridges, , Sarah Tomlinson (Contributor)
Available 03/16/10 in Hardcover
The former child star—best known as Willis Jackson on Diff’rent Strokes—shares the shocking but inspirational details of his struggles with addiction, brushes with the law, and fierce fight to carve a path through the darkness and find his true identity.
For Todd Bridges, early stardom was no protection from painful childhood events that paved the road to his own personal hell. One of the first African-American child actors on shows like Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and Roots, Bridges burst to the national forefront on the hit sitcom Diff’rent Strokes as the subject of the popular catchphrase, “What’chu Talkin About Willis?” When the show ended, Bridges was overwhelmed by the off-camera traumas he had faced. Turning to drugs as an escape, he soon lost control.
Now, for the first time, Bridges opens up about his life before and after Diff’rent Strokes: the incredible reversals of fortune brought on by fame and the precipitous—and very public—descent that followed; the persecution from police; the drug addiction that nearly consumed him; the criminal charges that almost earned him a life sentence; and his successful legal defense led by Johnnie Cochran. Through it all, Bridges never relented in his quest to fight his way back from the abyss, establish his own identity—separate from Willis Jackson—and offer his ordeal as a positive example for those struggling to overcome similar challenges. His triumphant story of recovery and redemption is recounted here as well.
Todd Bridges has lived a life of remarkable twists and turns—from the greatest heights to the lowest lows imaginable. In this shocking but ultimately hopeful memoir, he proves that what he was really talking about was survival.
Foxy: My Life in Three Acts
by Pam Grier, with Andrea Cagan
Available 04/28/10 in Hardcover
Beautiful, bold, and bad, Pam Grier burst onto the movie scene in the 1970s, setting the screen on fire and forever changing the country’s view of African American actresses. With a killer attitude and body to match, Grier became the ultimate fantasy of men everywhere. But she quickly proved that she was more than just a desirable film goddess. She had the brains, courage, and tenacity to sustain a career that would span more than 30 years. In FOXY, she chronicles the good, bad, and steamy highlights in her life and career. From her early beginnings as a star in Foxy Brown to her Golden-Globe nominated role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, Grier reveals her hard-won battles against racism and sexism, her victories in Hollywood, and her relationships with Richard Pryor and Kareem Abdul Jabar. Here, we see Pam in all of her incredible roles-from army brat and movie star to cancer survivor and dedicated activist. Revealing, thoroughly candid, and audacious, this is a no-holds-barred look at one of our most enduring screen idols.
The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal
by Mark Ribowsky
Da Capo Press
Drawing on intimate recollections from friends, family, and Motown contemporaries, Mark Ribowsky charts the Supremes’ meteoric rise and bitter disintegration. He sheds light on Diana Ross‘s relationship with Berry Gordy and her cutthroat rise to top billing in the group, as well as Florence Ballard‘s corresponding decline. He also takes us inside the studio, examining how timeless classics were conceived and recorded on the Motown “assembly line,” and considers the place of Motown in an era of cultural upheaval, when not being “black enough” became a fierce denunciation within the black music industry.
The Legs Are the Last to Go: Aging, Acting, Marrying, and Other Things I Learned the Hard Way
by Diahann Carroll
It’s conventional wisdom that Hollywood has no use for a woman over forty. So it’s a good thing that Diahann Carroll — whose winning, sometimes controversial career breached racial barriers — is anything but conventional. Shonda Rhimes, the creator and executive producer of the hit program Grey’s Anatomy, developed a role just for her, and a recent show that’s touring the United States, The Life and Times of Diahann Carroll, was enthusiastically embraced by the New York Times. And all this since Carroll turned seventy! Here she shares her life story with an admirable candidness of someone who has seen and done it all. With wisdom that only aging gracefully can bestow, she talks frankly about her four marriages as well as the other significant relationships in her life, including her courtship with Sidney Poitier; racial politics in Hollywood and on Broadway; and the personal cost, particularly to her family, of being a pioneer. Whether she’s recalling an audition for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Sunset Boulevard, reflecting on her marriage to Vic Damone, or talking about her experience with breast cancer, Carroll’s storied history, blunt views, and notorious wit will be sure to entertain and inform.
The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist
by Deirdre O’Connell
The true story of a black musical savant in the era of slavery. Born into slavery in Georgia, Tom Wiggins died an international celebrity in New York in 1908. His life was one of the most bizarre and moving episodes in American history. Born blind and autistic-and so unable to work with other slaves-Tom was left to his own devices. He was mesmerized by the music of the family’s young daughters, and by the time he was four, Tom was playing tunes on the piano. Eventually freed from slavery, Wiggins, or “Blind Tom” as he was called, toured the country and the world playing for celebrities like Mark Twain and the Queen of England and dazzling audiences everywhere. One part genius and one part novelty act, Blind Tom embodied contradictions-a star and a freak, freed from slavery but still the property of his white guardian. His life offers a window into the culture of celebrity and racism at the turn of the twentieth century. In this rollicking and heartrending book, O’Connell takes us through the life (and three separate deaths) of Blind Tom Wiggins, restoring to the modern reader this unusual yet quintessentially American life.
Music, Money, Madness, and the Mob
By Matt Birkbeck
On Sale: 9/16/2008
Sammy Davis Jr. lived a storied life. Adored by millions over a six-decade-long career, he was considered an entertainment icon and a national treasure. But despite lifetime earnings that topped $50 million, Sammy died in 1990 near bankruptcy. His estate was declared insolvent, and there was no possibility of it ever using Sammy’s name or likeness again. It was as if Sammy had never existed.
Years later his wife, Altovise, a once-vivacious woman and heir to one of the greatest entertainment legacies of the twentieth century, was living in poverty, and with nowhere else to go, she turned to a former federal prosecutor, Albert “Sonny” Murray, to make one last attempt to resolve Sammy’s debts, restore his estate, and revive his legacy. For seven years, Sonny probed Sammy’s life to understand how someone of great notoriety and wealth could have lost everything, and in the process he came to understand Sammy as a man whose complexity makes for a riveting work of celebrity biography as cultural history.
Matt Birkbeck’s serious work of investigative journalism unveils the extraordinary story of an international celebrity at the center of a confluence of entertainment, politics, and organized crime, and shows how even Sammy’s outsized talent couldn’t save him from himself.
New and Upcoming African American Books