Tales of the Talented Tenth: Bass Reeves by Joel Christian Gill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wonderful biography of the black US Marshall, born a slave, who became the most successful lawman of the West and legend has it the stories of the Lone Ranger are based on him. The author's previous book, Strange Fruit, contains a mini-biography on Bass Reeves and this book takes the same story, expounds upon it and fills in more details. Bass led an adventurous life starting off as a slave, living several years with Natives, fighting for the North during the Civil War and finally becoming a US Marshall. An interesting concept used for this book, that I think is quite successful in conveying the racism of the time without using the degrading language is the using of pictographs. Whenever a black man is being referred to as, obviously the n-word, there is a little drawing of a racist blackface type head, also for Indians whenever they are being referred to as perhaps redskins or savages, there is a little drawing of the head of a chief in feathered headdress. For those of us who know the words that were used, the images bring them to mind, for the younger readers who haven't experienced these racist terms, the words aren't introduced and yet they know "bad" or mocking words are being used. An interesting, informative and exciting tale of a man not that well known to history. Looking forward to seeing who the next volume will be about.
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