Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rape & Civil Rights History, the original Tea Party, TR, and more in the book pages

AT THE DARK END OF THE STREET: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance: A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire is "a story of courage," writes Sheri Parks in the Washington Post.  "In the segregated American South, a white man could rape a black woman with little fear of legal or social recourse, and black women lived in a persistent state of apprehension. Rape was used as a weapon of terror in the subjugation of black women, their families and whole communities."  Although rape victims were threatened if they reported these crimes,
The women did tell, again and again. Many went to police before they went to the hospital and were supported by families and friends who corroborated their stories, at great risk. White control of the justice system meant that relatively few men were ever arrested and many fewer were ever convicted. McGuire reports that between 1940 and 1965, only 10 Mississippi white men were convicted of raping black women and girls. Although rape was a capital offense in many Southern states, no white man was ever executed for raping a black woman.

Yet black women's resistance grew into a social movement. Years before the Montgomery bus boycott, a coalition of poor and middle-class black women raised money; formed organizations; wrote, mimeographed and distributed fliers; attended trials; and boycotted the businesses of rapists. These actions created the strategies and alliances that the same women would use later to extend their rights. In fact, the civil rights movement was a continuation of the anti-rape movement; the early college sit-ins, largely by women, came in response to sexual violence, and Rosa Parks was a central figure well before she refused to give up her seat on the bus.
Continue reading here.  I just read the prologue of this book on, and it is so terrifying, well written and important that this is the one of those books that, once you pick it up, you won't be able to stop reading.

DEFIANCE OF THE PATRIOTS: The Boston Tea Party & the Making of America by Benjamin L. Carp is reviewed in the Boston Globe.  Michael Kenney writes:
No question that the Boston Tea Party was a trigger for the Revolution, writes Benjamin L. Carp in his sterling account of the event. But, argues Carp, a professor of history at Tufts University, it was not the spontaneous citizen uprising of historic myth. After the success of the Revolution, it vanished from public memory until well into the 19th century.

Carp’s account of how the crisis unfolded is particularly good at illustrating the politics that pitted the “friends of government,’’ led by Governor Thomas Hutchinson, against the Sons of Liberty, including Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren. His account details the efforts Boston’s patriot leaders made to defuse the looming crisis over the British imposition of a tax on tea, a crisis that would heighten with the arrival of cargoes of tea.
Read the rest here.

Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris is taken up on the Los Angeles Times.  Nicholas Basbanes writes:
TR was so secure in what he had accomplished...that he eschewed the honorific "Mr. President" in retirement, preferring instead that everyone address him as "Colonel Roosevelt," the rank he had earned as commander of a volunteer cavalry regiment during the Spanish American War — and the title that Edmund Morris uses for the third and concluding volume of an exemplary biography begun more than three decades ago with "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt," winner in 1980 of a Pulitzer Prize; "Theodore Rex," the 2001 installment, focused on his tenure as 26th president of the United States.

But as the cascading events of a world in tumult played out, the final 10 years of Roosevelt's life were anything but anticlimactic, certainly as interesting as those that preceded them, and almost as consequential.
For Basbanes, Morris's "masterful" trilogy "can rightfully take its place among the truly outstanding biographies of the American presidency."  More here.

Also reviewed this week: WHEN THEY COME FOR US, WE'LL BE GONE: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry by Gal Beckerman in the Washington Post;  UNBROKEN: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand in the New York Times; and ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, also in the NY Times.