Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

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9780062201003: Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

2016 NAACP Image Award Winner

Winner of the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction

An award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a human zoo exhibit—a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century in the tradition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Devil in the White City, and Medical Apartheid.

In 1904, Ota Benga, a young Congolese “pygmy”—a person of petite stature—arrived from central Africa and was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch tall man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe.

Spectacle explores the circumstances of Ota Benga’s captivity, the international controversy it inspired, and his efforts to adjust to American life. It also reveals why, decades later, the man most responsible for his exploitation would be hailed as his friend and savior, while those who truly fought for Ota have been banished to the shadows of history. Using primary historical documents, Pamela Newkirk traces Ota’s tragic life, from Africa to St. Louis to New York, and finally to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived out the remainder of his short life.

Illuminating this unimaginable event, Spectacle charts the evolution of science and race relations in New York City during the early years of the twentieth century, exploring this racially fraught era for Africa-Americans and the rising tide of political disenfranchisement and social scorn they endured, forty years after the end of the Civil War. Shocking and compelling Spectacle is a masterful work of social history that raises difficult questions about racial prejudice and discrimination that continue to haunt us today.

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From the Back Cover:

Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Root, and the Huffington Post Black Voices

Ota Benga, a young African man, was featured as an exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging him with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe.

Spectacle explores the circumstances of Ota Benga’s captivity and the international controversy it inspired. Using primary historical documents, Pamela Newkirk traces Ota’s tragic existence, from the Congo to St. Louis to New York and finally to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived out the remainder of his short life.

Spectacle simultaneously explores New York City during the early years of the twentieth century, a racially fraught era that led to a rising tide of political disenfranchisement and social scorn for African Americans.

About the Author:

Pamela Newkirk is an award-winning journalist and a professor of journalism at New York University. She is the author of Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media, which won the National Press Club Award for media criticism, and the editor of Letters from Black America. She lives in New York City.

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 231 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 2016 NAACP Image Award Winner Winner of the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction An award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a human zoo exhibit-a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century in the tradition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Devil in the White City, and Medical Apartheid. In 1904, Ota Benga, a young Congolese pygmy -a person of petite stature-arrived from central Africa and was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World s Fair. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch tall man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe. Spectacle explores the circumstances of Ota Benga s captivity, the international controversy it inspired, and his efforts to adjust to American life. It also reveals why, decades later, the man most responsible for his exploitation would be hailed as his friend and savior, while those who truly fought for Ota have been banished to the shadows of history. Using primary historical documents, Pamela Newkirk traces Ota s tragic life, from Africa to St. Louis to New York, and finally to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived out the remainder of his short life. Illuminating this unimaginable event, Spectacle charts the evolution of science and race relations in New York City during the early years of the twentieth century, exploring this racially fraught era for Africa-Americans and the rising tide of political disenfranchisement and social scorn they endured, forty years after the end of the Civil War. Shocking and compelling Spectacle is a masterful work of social history that raises difficult questions about racial prejudice and discrimination that continue to haunt us today. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780062201003

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 231 x 160 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. 2016 NAACP Image Award Winner Winner of the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction An award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a human zoo exhibit-a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century in the tradition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Devil in the White City, and Medical Apartheid. In 1904, Ota Benga, a young Congolese pygmy -a person of petite stature-arrived from central Africa and was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World s Fair. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch tall man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe. Spectacle explores the circumstances of Ota Benga s captivity, the international controversy it inspired, and his efforts to adjust to American life. It also reveals why, decades later, the man most responsible for his exploitation would be hailed as his friend and savior, while those who truly fought for Ota have been banished to the shadows of history. Using primary historical documents, Pamela Newkirk traces Ota s tragic life, from Africa to St. Louis to New York, and finally to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived out the remainder of his short life. Illuminating this unimaginable event, Spectacle charts the evolution of science and race relations in New York City during the early years of the twentieth century, exploring this racially fraught era for Africa-Americans and the rising tide of political disenfranchisement and social scorn they endured, forty years after the end of the Civil War. Shocking and compelling Spectacle is a masterful work of social history that raises difficult questions about racial prejudice and discrimination that continue to haunt us today. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780062201003

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