Review by Choice Review
Many people in the US do not realize that about 95 percent of the more than 11 million slaves shipped out of Africa during the Middle Passage arrived in Latin America and the Caribbean. Gates's realization of this fact led him to explore the history and culture of the African diaspora in the multicultural worlds of Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the third volume of a trilogy, following Wonders of the African World (1999), which focused on the African continent, and America behind the Color Line (2004), which examined the African American experience. As with these two earlier projects, this travelogue accompanies a similarly titled, four-hour PBS video. Gates (Harvard) focuses on African culture, politics, and religion in the six countries of Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Peru. Readers desiring a deeper, more academic, and more comprehensive treatment of the African diaspora will be better served by George Reid Andrews, Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000 (CH, Mar'05, 42-4193). Gates's highly readable and quickly paced book, however, serves a critically important role in bringing popular attention to the significant contributions of African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean. Summing Up: Recommended. General collections/public libraries. M. Becker Truman State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
Gates expands his focus on the black experience in Latin America. In Brazil, he explores how race consciousness is suppressed and debunks the myth o. racial democracy. He also examines the substantial black presence in Mexico and Peru, both of which have denied the history of black slavery in their nations and their historic efforts a. whitenin. their population by promoting European immigration. In the Dominican Republic, the majority of the population self-identifies as indigenous but would be and are clearly identifiable as black in the U.S. The Dominican aversion to black identity is strongly tied to their historic experience with island-mate Haiti, the first self-independent black republic that has continued to suffer an unforgiving fate in its relationship with the Western world. Gates ends his travel with Cuba, the prime source of sugar for Europeans and therefore the entry point for most African slaves into the Americas, a nation at peace with its mixed races until U.S. involvement imposed a segregationist slant. While Gates' tour reveals a burgeoning brown (mixed-race) pride, it also reveals lingering valuation of lighter skin.--Ford, Verno. Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Of the 11 million enslaved Africans who survived the Middle Passage between 1502 and 1866, 450,000 were brought to the U.S., and the rest-more than 10.5 million-were sent to the Caribbean and Latin America. Harvard professor Gates (How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered Their Pasts) continues to plumb the roots of the descendants of Africans in the New World, and in this companion volume to his PBS special of the same name, he tells the stories of Africans shipped to Brazil, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba. It's a rare history that reads like a travelogue: Gates records his visits to the countries, his pleasure in a cool evening in Mexico, his investigations into the issues of the cultural encounters between the indigenous, colonizing, and enslaved populations -the hybrid forms of song and dance, the virulent racism and brutality-with a personal touch. He takes the contemporary pulse of each country, lists its racial categorizations, and interviews common folk and celebrated activists and historians alike. His chapter in Haiti is especially wrenching and inspiring; in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake, Gates discovers in Port au Prince both the worst living conditions he has ever seen and the only "bold, public recognition of a nation's black founding fathers." (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
With this companion to the recently aired PBS documentary of the same name, Gates (Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard Univ.; Faces of America) completes a three-continent trilogy on Afro-descended traditions that began with Wonders of the African World and followed with America Behind the Color Line. Here he pursues the question of what it has meant to be black in the Americas. The question, he says, is best answered outside North America, for about 10.8 million of the 11.2 million Africans who landed between 1502 and 1866 in the Americas went to the Caribbean and South America. Focusing on six countries-Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, and Peru-Gates traces a multidirectional color line. The diversity of what he found shows throughout and especially in an 11-page appendix on color categories in Latin America. Verdict Gates's mix of interviews, insights, and personal commentary hardly challenges George Reid Andrews's Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000 or the essays in Race and Nation in Modern Latin America by Nancy P. Appelbaum and others, but it offers general readers a snapshot perspective on the history and life of New World blacks amid legacies of slavery, plantation economics, and poverty.-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.