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Book Review

Gates delivers a rich, illustrated history of black America

Center (from left): Dr. Benjamin Spock, Martin Luther King Jr., Monsignor Charles Rice, and Cleveland Robinson march arm in arm during an antiwar demonstration in New York on April 17, 1967. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (below) chronicles the black experience in America through photographs and short essays about events, trends, and individuals in “Life Upon These Shores.’’ Center (from left): Dr. Benjamin Spock, Martin Luther King Jr., Monsignor Charles Rice, and Cleveland Robinson march arm in arm during an antiwar demonstration in New York on April 17, 1967. Henry Louis Gates Jr. (below) chronicles the black experience in America through photographs and short essays about events, trends, and individuals in “Life Upon These Shores.’’ (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS (ABOVE); JOSEPH SINNOTT (BELOW))
By Kenneth J. Cooper
November 30, 2011
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In this coffee table book, Henry Louis Gates Jr. promises and delivers “a collective visual history of persons of African descent in America since their arrival,’’ with more than 750 photographs illustrating almost 500 pages. The distinguished Harvard professor provides more than pictures. His short essays reflect his considerable ability as a cultural historian by offering interpretive gems that convey the significance of individuals, events and trends, even if familiar.

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LIFE UPON THESE SHORES: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008

By Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Knopf, 487 pp., illustrated, $50