Gates brings his one-man crusade to a bookstore near you with his new book, 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro. Part Encyclopedia Africana, part advanced black studies course, the book unearths little known, often surprising truths about the complex history of the worldwide black diaspora, serving up a sweeping concept in bite-sized chapters … The overarching theme of 100 Amazing Facts is America’s original sin — slavery — and its not-so-silent partners, rape, rebellion and bloodshed. Gates unflinchingly tells bitter, warts-and-all tales.
It’s a fun book that, in no particular order, asks and answers questions about ancient history, Afro-European history and Afro-Latin history. Indeed, this book is global time travel, looking at history through the lens of African American lives … The book brims with conversation pieces but also with the pain that is all too evident when discussing the ways enslaved people of African descent lived here in the United States and around the world … I would have liked to see more information about women, the working class (what about African Americans in unions?) and the marginalized in this volume.
A series of 100 questions with short answers, the book is a freewheeling exploration of black history. Gates takes on questions such as ‘Who was the first black saint?’ as well as ‘Who was the first black person to see the baby Jesus?’ and ‘What happened to Argentina’s black population?’ An essay about the first black fighter pilot is followed by a question about slave ownership. Topics range from sports to civil rights and the slave trade, the Civil War, piracy and even the Salem witch trials. Gates is a historian, but he is also a consummate teacher. And one of the charms of the volume is that the essays appear in no particular order, making it ideal for dipping into at will or keeping on a bedside table to pick up before bed.