Normal view MARC view ISBD view

Smoketown : the untold story of the other great Black Renaissance /

by Whitaker, Mark [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2018.Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.Description: xxi, 404 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9781501122392; 1501122398.Other title: Untold story of the other great Black Renaissance; Smoke town.Subject(s): African Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- History | African Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Intellectual life | African Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh -- Social conditions -- 20th century | African American athletes -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh | Jazz musicians -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Intellectual life -- 20th century | Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Civilization | African Americans -- Intellectual life -- 20th century | HISTORY -- African American | HISTORY -- United States -- 20th Century | HISTORY -- United States -- State & Local -- Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA) | History
Contents:
Cast of characters -- The neighborhoods of Pittsburgh -- The Brown Bomber's cornermen -- The Negro Carnegies -- The calculating crusader -- The rise and fall of "Big Red" -- Billy and Lena -- The Double V warriors -- The complex Mr. B -- "Jackie's Boswell" -- The women of "up south" -- The bard of a broken world.
Summary: "The other great Renaissance of black culture, influence, and glamour burst forth joyfully in what may seem an unlikely place--Pittsburgh, PA--from the 1920s through the 1950s. Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson's famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson--and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city, from Joe Louis and Satchel Paige to Duke Ellington and Lena Horne. Mark Whitaker's Smoketown is a captivating portrait of this unsung community and a vital addition to the story of black America."-- From the publisher.
List(s) this item appears in: Black History Month
    average rating: 0.0 (0 votes)
Item type Home library Collection Shelving location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Books Books Altadena Main Library
Adult Collection Adult NonFiction 305.896 WHI (Browse shelf) Available 39270004686162

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

" Smoketown brilliantly offers us a chance to see this other black renaissance and spend time with the many luminaries who sparked it...It's thanks to such a gifted storyteller as Whitaker that this forgotten chapter of American history can finally be told in all its vibrancy and glory."-- The New York Times Book Review <br> <br> The other great Renaissance of black culture, influence, and glamour burst forth joyfully in what may seem an unlikely place--Pittsburgh, PA--from the 1920s through the 1950s.<br> <br> Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson's famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson--and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city, from Joe Louis and Satchel Paige to Duke Ellington and Lena Horne.<br> <br> Mark Whitaker's Smoketown is a captivating portrait of this unsung community and a vital addition to the story of black America. It depicts how ambitious Southern migrants were drawn to a steel-making city on a strategic river junction; how they were shaped by its schools and a spirit of commerce with roots in the Gilded Age; and how their world was eventually destroyed by industrial decline and urban renewal. Whitaker takes readers on a rousing, revelatory journey--and offers a timely reminder that Black History is not all bleak.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 345-384) and index.

Cast of characters -- The neighborhoods of Pittsburgh -- The Brown Bomber's cornermen -- The Negro Carnegies -- The calculating crusader -- The rise and fall of "Big Red" -- Billy and Lena -- The Double V warriors -- The complex Mr. B -- "Jackie's Boswell" -- The women of "up south" -- The bard of a broken world.

"The other great Renaissance of black culture, influence, and glamour burst forth joyfully in what may seem an unlikely place--Pittsburgh, PA--from the 1920s through the 1950s. Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson's famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson--and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city, from Joe Louis and Satchel Paige to Duke Ellington and Lena Horne. Mark Whitaker's Smoketown is a captivating portrait of this unsung community and a vital addition to the story of black America."-- From the publisher.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Preface (p. xiii)
  • Cast of Characters (p. xvii)
  • The Neighborhoods of Pittsburgh (p. xxiii)
  • 1 The Brown Bomber's Cornermen (p. 1)
  • 2 The Negro Carnegies (p. 25)
  • 3 The Calculating Crusader (p. 53)
  • 4 The Rise and Fall of "Big Red" (p. 89)
  • 5 Billy and Lena (p. 123)
  • 6 The Double U Warriors (p. 153)
  • 7 The Complex Mr. B (p. 193)
  • 8 "Jackie's Boswell" (p. 231)
  • 9 The Women of "Up South" (p. 271)
  • 10 The Bard of a Broken World (p. 303)
  • Acknowledgments (p. 341)
  • Notes (p. 345)
  • Index (p. 385)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

For several decades in the 20th century, the Pittsburgh Courier was the most influential black newspaper in America. At the height of its success, the paper had 14 regional editions and a circulation of almost half a million subscribers. The newspaper helped to promote the Double V campaign during World War II and to shift the black vote from republican to democrat, all while covering rising sports stars such as Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. In his latest book, Whitaker (Cosby: His Life and Times) looks at Pittsburgh's forgotten impact on black culture and sports between the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and the later civil rights era. The narrative is structured around the activity of the Courier and the power it held over black America during World War II. Whitaker's attempt to broaden the story by including chapters on jazz greats born in Pittsburgh and August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle is ultimately unnecessary as the history of the paper and its influence on the larger culture is enough of a story on its own. VERDICT Whitaker provides important research on a pivotal moment in African American history, but at times the narrative strays a little too far from Pittsburgh.-John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Novelist Select