Staff Pick

Author of Ambiguous Lives and Homelands and Waterways, Adele Logan Alexander taught for eighteen years at George Washington University. Princess of the Hither Isles (Yale, $30) draws on her extensive scholarship as well as on her own family history to tell the story of Adella Hunt Logan (1863-1915), a pioneering activist for social justice—and Alexander’s grandmother. Born to a white father and free woman of color in a Georgia family whose lineage also included Cherokees, Logan started teaching at age sixteen, before getting a scholarship to Atlanta University; by 1883, she was
on the faculty of the Tuskegee Institute, where she became the institution’s first woman librarian and formed a close friendship with Booker T. Washington. An advocate for equal education and universal suffrage, she wrote for The Crisis and The Colored American and was part of a circle of reformers that included Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and W. E. B. Du Bois. While her efforts ultimately led to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Logan suffered a breakdown and, just after Washington’s death in 1915, committed suicide. Alexander recounts her life with vivid historical insight and keen psychological acuity, doing justice to one of the many courageous women of color too often omitted from accounts of the suffrage movement.

Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist’s Story from the Jim Crow South Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780300242607
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Yale University Press - September 24th, 2019

Staff Pick

2016, the lunar Year of the Monkey (Knopf, $24.95), began for Patti Smith with a west coast concert tour, during which she saw her friend of forty years, Sandy Pearlman, succumb to a cerebral hemorrhage. She later watched the decline of another old friend, Sam Shepherd, and felt the acceleration of time as she turned seventy, couldn’t sleep, and took up walking at night. Smith survived all this and, exhibiting no symptoms of “dried-up poet syndrome,” recounts it with the same matter-of-fact yet slightly bemused tone that made her previous memoirs so engaging. Taking what comes, Smith turns it all into remarkable language; whether describing a deserted café that has “a J. G. Ballard kind of gone,” or a patch of blue wildflowers looking “as if it had been seeded by sky,” she is our great poet of ambience. Fittingly for a time permeated by “an atmosphere of artificial brightness with corrosive edges…[and] an avalanche of toxicity,” Smith moves frequently and without warning between daily life, memories, and dreams, intermittently receiving “transmissions” from a neon Dream Inn sign. Between dreams, she references a wide range of films, music, and books; makes the rounds of cafés; and snaps many of the Polaroids that complement this vivid, poignant, and deeply satisfying narrative.
 

Year of the Monkey Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780525657682
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - September 24th, 2019

Staff Pick

Had things gone according to plan, Harper Lee would have followed To Kill a Mockingbird with a true-crime book called The Reverend, an account of Willie Maxwell, an African American preacher from Alabama accused of killing five members of his family, one by one, in the 1970s. Determined to stick to the facts--unlike her friend Truman Capote, whose In Cold Blood Lee had helped with--Lee spent a year in Maxwell’s hometown reporting the story, but never managed to get the book written. Working from Lee’s notes, letters, and the historical record, Casey Cep, in her powerful debut, has. Furious Hours (Knopf, $26.95) in fact is three books in one. Along with the account of how and why Maxwell committed the murders—including the possible role played by voodoo—Cep examines the relationship between Maxwell and his lawyer, a white liberal who defended Maxwell through several trials, and then, after Maxwell was shot at his stepdaughter’s funeral, defended his killer. Clearly, Lee was on to a great story, and Cep adds to it with a rare inside look at one of our most reclusive writers, delving into Lee’s complicated and often contradictory attitudes to race and the South and correcting the many misunderstandings that have crept into the Lee legend.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781101947869
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - May 7th, 2019

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