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Berlin (Many Thousands Gone) offers a fresh reading of American history through the prism of the "great migrations that made and remade African and African American life." The first was "the forcible deportation" of Africans to North America" in the 17th and 18th centuries, followed by their "forced transfer" into the American interior during the 19th century. Then came the migration of the mid-20th century as African-Americans fled the South for the urban North, and the arrival of continental Africans and people of African descent from the Caribbean during the latter part of the 20th century. Berlin sees migration and the reshaping of communities to their new environments as central to the African-American experience. Movement is a matter of numbers, and Berlin provides them in detail kept fully readable by his attention to the cultural products of the shifts. In particular, he follows the church as it moves, the music as it takes on new themes, and kinship as it broadens. Berlin's careful scholarship is evidenced in his rich notes; the ordinary reader will be pleased by the fluidity and clarity of his prose. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Slavery, migration, and, more recently, immigration all constitute the making of African Americans, a history older and far more complex than that of most other Americans. Historian Berlin explores the four great migrations that have produced the distinct culture of African Americans: the transatlantic slave trade; the migration of African slaves from the Atlantic coast inland to southern plantations; the great migration from the rural South to the urban North, particularly during World War II; and the latest movement in the diaspora, the immigration to the U.S. of people of African descent from Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe. Berlin analyzes the movements, the dynamics of changes in customs and mores, as well as the sense of place developed by African Americans as they adjusted to each migration, voluntary and involuntary. He explores the changes in culture, music, politics, social institutions, and economics that defined each movement and redefined African Americans. Berlin also explores the latest migration, tensions, and feelings of kinship between native-born African Americans and newcomers, and the ultimate impact on perceptions of what it means to be black in America.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist
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The act of moving has added dimension to African American life, argues Berlin (history, Univ. of Maryland; Generations of Captivity). The experience began with the more than ten million shipped from Africa in the transatlantic slave trade. It continued with passage from Atlantic coastal communities to what became the Deep South. Next came the so-called Great Migration from South to North, which included movement from countryside to city. And now a global passage, explains Berlin, is reshaping a firmly entrenched urban African American population, with an influx of blacks from the Caribbean and Africa since the late 1960s. Migrations continue to remake black life, as they continue to remake American life; they create new histories and new realities, Berlin suggests. Others, notably historian Colin A. Palmer, have pursued similar themes of black passages but not so comprehensively in the broad sweep of place and space. VERDICT Berlin's neat synthesis offers the sharp insights and provocative commentary of one of the foremost historians of black America. Essential for library collections, general readers, and scholars of African American history. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.