Book Mini-Review: The Seer’s Notes

Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing.
Robert A. Caro.
Knopf. 207 pp. $25.00.

This historian turning his anecdotes inward is interesting to hardcore Caro-ites, like this writer. The how and the why are answered. The rules are simple: Marry the right woman (Ina Caro, a historian in her own right and Caro’s only researcher, needs her own published version of these stories). Turn every page. Ask thousands, What did you see? What did you hear? Now ask the questions repeatedly. Also simple is Capo’s origin story. He was a young Princeton grad who did well at Long Island Newsday when all of that mattered, and who, luckily for him, found the team that is now American literary legend: Lynn Nesbit and Robert Gottlieb. So for more than 50 years, Caro has been financially freed up to read, research, interview, and write about American political power.  The winner of enough literary awards to weigh down a battleship, he can afford the incredible amount of shoe-leather that allows him to patiently find any buried truth or fact, anywhere. “Of course there was more,” he writes. “If you ask the right questions, there always is. That’s the problem.” Caro, who admits this book is a sort-of collection of memories and notes for a coming memoir, says biography must be a visual medium to be successful, and that “silence is the weapon” in interviews. The author’s real weapon is total immersion, and the lonely-by-necessity Lyndon Baines Johnson scribe makes many top-notch American presidential biographers into little more than weekend historians by comparison. The man who hates the unanswered question has decided to ask every single one, repeatedly if necessary, no matter how long, or where, it takes.

Johnson Publications Files For Bankruptcy

Well…..I’ll just say it’s a good thing historians nourish ourselves through memory.  😦

 

Lerone Bennett Jr.: Until That New Biography Comes Out Next Year……

…………I’ll have to be satisfied with this new, and fine, journal article by Christopher M. Tinson.

The biography, coming early next year, will be called “Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett, Jr: Black Popular History in Postwar America” by James West.

West tells me that I need to check out a forthcoming book on Hoyt Fuller by Jonathan Fenderson. It’s now on the list.

A New Book I’m In About The “Black Panther” Movie

The official media material says:

Black Panther earns three Oscars. Since its inception Marvel Studios’ Black Panther has provoked and stoked a wide range of interest, and now that the blockbuster film is the recipient of three Oscars the film’s acclaim extends beyond the box office.
No, it didn’t get the top prize, but it was a barrier breaker as Ruth Carter was the first black woman to ever win in the Costume Design category; and another first for a black artist when Hannah Beachler took the trophy, which she shared with Set Decorator Jay Hart, in Production Design. Additional spice arrived when Ludwig Goransson earned an Oscar for the Best Score in a Motion Picture.
These awards and other nominations for Black Panther augurs well for populist cinema that is traditionally scorned when it comes to taking home the coveted awards, particularly an Oscar, which is Marvel’s first.
It’s a good bet the honors to Black Panther will not only boost the appreciation for populist cinema, it should also enhance the appeal of a number of products and projects such as Black Panther: A Paradigm Shift or Not? the forthcoming anthology at Third World Press, edited by Haki Madhubuti and Herb Boyd. “All of the celebration and awards for the film is nothing to thumb your nose at and we at Third World Press extend all our good wishes and hope we can do as well with our publication,” said Madhubuti, the press’s publisher and founder.
The anthology, which includes more than forty writers, film critics, scholars, and activists, has a timely appearance and should be able to reap some of the renewed media attention the film has sparked. Among the contributors are Nicole Mitchell Gantt, Jelani Cobb, Brent Staples, Abdul Alkalimat, Bobby Seale, Robyn Spencer, Diane Turner, Greg Tate, Maulana Karenga, Marita Golden, and Molefi Keta Asante, et al.
As may be discerned from the contributors the anthology is a compilation of mixed views and opinions―with both praise and a critique of the film. “The film has aroused a variety of conclusions, a wellspring of differences that we felt compelled to give them a forum,” said Boyd. “Like the film, the views expressed in the book are often very provocative.”