City Of Islands: Caribbean Intellectuals in New York
By Tammy L. Brown
Reviewed by Dominique Jean-Louis
In her 2015 book, City of Islands, Tammy L. Brown states as her premise that “personal lives serve as windows into the broader political landscape of any given time and place. The best biographers not only recognize this truth, they embrace it” (3). The book uses the biographies of five prominent Caribbean-American New Yorkers (Unitarian preacher Ethelred Brown, activist Richard B. Moore, dancer and anthropologist Pearl Primus, politician Shirley Chisholm, and novelist Paule Marshall) to trace the impact of Caribbean intellectual contributions on New York culture and politics, particularly within New York’s black community. While her commitment to the symbolic and narrative power of biography is convincing and demonstrated well, the book’s insufficient consideration of Caribbean identity limits Brown’s ability to unite her mini-biographies to ultimately say something larger about Caribbeans in New York.
Clifton Hood's In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis
The following is an excerpt from the author's new book, The Roots of Urban Renaissance:
Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem, courtesy of Harvard University Press.
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