Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

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9780062201003: Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

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 Using primary historical documents, Pamela Newkirk traces Ota’s tragic life, from Africa to St. Louis to New York, and finally to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he lived out the remainder of his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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Review:

“This is an explosive, heartbreaking book. It unfolds with the grace of an E.L. Doctorow novel, and spins forward with the urgency of a wild tabloid story.” ( James McBride, bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird)

“Pamela Newkirk has taken a careful, highly readable look at an episode that lays bare so much about our not-so-distant past. It’s all here: the dreams of glory in African exploration, appalling racism, and the moving, tragic odyssey of a forgotten man who was the victim of both.” (Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold's Ghost)

“A shocking tale of a young African taken from his home for the purposes of Western science throws into relief the turn-of-the-century’s ill-conceived intentions and prejudice. . . . An inspired and moving work of intrepid scholarship.” ( Kirkus Reviews)

“Meticulously detailed. . . . Readers will be moved, especially when reading about the tragic turns Benga’s life took in the years after he was released.” ( Publishers Weekly)

From the Back Cover:

An award-winning journalist reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a zoo exhibit—a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century.

Ota Benga, a young Congolese man, was featured as an exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair. Two years later, in 1906, the Bronx Zoo displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, four-foot eleven-inch 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 his life in America. It also uncovers, decades later, the flagrant deception that allowed the man most responsible for Ota's exploitation to be hailed as his friend and savior, while those who truly fought for Ota's freedom have been banished to the shadows of history. Using primary historical documents, Pam-ela Newkirk traces Ota's tragic path, 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 unfathomable series of events, Spectacle simultaneously charts the evolution of science, elite men and institutions, and racial ideologies. It also 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. 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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Pamela Newkirk
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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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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Hardback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga, Pamela Newkirk, 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 # B9780062201003

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Book Description Hardback. Book Condition: New. Not Signed; 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. book. Bookseller Inventory # ria9780062201003_rkm

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Book Description Amistad, 2015. Book Condition: New. Num Pages: 336 pages, illustrations. BIC Classification: HB. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 165 x 240 x 35. Weight in Grams: 494. . 2015. First Edition. Hardcover. . . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780062201003

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Book Description Amistad. Book Condition: New. Num Pages: 336 pages, illustrations. BIC Classification: HB. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 165 x 240 x 35. Weight in Grams: 494. . 2015. First Edition. Hardcover. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9780062201003

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