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"The facts of urban life presented here are in their starkest form," Richard Wright wrote in the original foreword to this penetrating study of Chicago's South Side, first published in 1945. "To have them presented otherwise would have been to negate the humanity of the American Negro." Nearly 50 years later, sociologist William Julius Wilson wrote that Black Metropolis "allows us to consider the significance of a segregated community heavily populated with working poor adults in contrast with a segregated community largely populated with nonworking adults." Simply put, sociologist St. Clair Drake and researcher Horace Cayton produced one of the most comprehensive studies of an African American urban enclave ever written. As in W.E.B. Du Bois's groundbreaking treatise The Philadelphia Negro, the contradictions and complexities of the Afro-American experience are expertly articulated without Eurocentric bias. Using traditional scientific methods of analysis, Cayton and Drake show the existence of a racial color line that keeps blacks segregated in economics, education, and politics, creating a vital cultural city within a city. More importantly, though, Black Metropolis makes the South Side come to life, with Drake and Cayton's hilarious, idiomatic references to the areas' many social groups--from the clothes-conscious, number-running "Upper Shadies" and the respectable "Race Men" of "Bronzeville" to the hypocritical "jackleg" preachers--and their richly detailed explanations of such phenomena as "passing" and the black Chicago community's interactions with white-led organized crime. --Eugene Holley Jr. [via]