Synopses & Reviews
Tremendous optimism filled the streets of Harlem during the decade and a half following World War I. Langston Hughes, Eubie Blake, Marcus Garvey, Zora Neale Hurston, Paul Robeson, and countless others began their careers; Afro-America made its first appearance on Broadway; musicians found new audiences in the chic who sought out the exotic in Harlem's whites-only nightclubs; riotous rent parties kept economic realities at bay; and A'Lelia Walker and Carl Van Vechten outdid each other with glittering "integrated" soirées.
When Harlem Was in Vogue recaptures the excitement of those times, displaying the intoxicating hope that black Americans could create important art and compel the nation to recognize their equality. In this critically-acclaimed study of race assimilation, David Levering Lewis focuses on the creation and manipulation of an arts and belles-lettres culture by a tiny Afro-American elite, striving to enhance "race relations" in America, and ultimately, the upward mobility of the Afro-American masses. He demonstrates how black intellectuals developed a systematic program to bring artists to Harlem, conducting nation-wide searches for black talent and urging WASP and Jewish philanthropists (termed "Negrotarians" by Zora Neale Hurston) to help support writers.
This extensively-researched, fascinating volume reveals the major significance of the Renaissance as a movement which sprang up in Harlem but lent its mood to the entire era, and as a culturally-vital period whose after-effects continue to add immeasurably to the richness and character of American life.
"A masterly book, it is the most unusual and authoritative work on the art and politics of the Harlem renaissance era. This volume is in the Lewis sytle: elegant prose based upon solid and voluminous research."--Kenneth R. Janken, University of North Carolina
"This book is a thoroughly documented text that is an excellent reference text for students studying any of the literary, social, economic, political or intellectual aspects of the Harlem Renaissance period in Black culture."--Dr. Pearlie Peters,Rider College
"It was an extremely well-written, informative, and exciting book. I highly recommend its use for courses on the Harlem Renaissance, or upon Afro-American history in general."--Richard Berkley, New York Univ.
"A major study...one that thoroughly interweaves the philosophies and fads, the people and movements that combined to give a small segment of Afro-America a brief place in the sun."--Jim Haskins, The New York Times Book Review
"A brilliant work....As an interpretation of one of America's major eras, it should be indispensable for the student of America's 1920s and exciting for any reader."--Darwin T. Turner, The Washington Post Book World
"[Lewis'] courageously brilliant, often witty, and beautifully clear book will become definitive for at least fifty years."--Choice
"From the social forums to the street-corner radicals, the the jazz clubs, and the white visitors, Lewis leaves a stirring impression....A gem of a book."--Library Journal
"In this thorough, penetrating study, [Lewis] examines not only the glittery surface of 'Afro-America's Paris'--the parties and cabarets that sent whites uptown in search of 'the exotic and forbidden'--but also the complex mix of people and circumstances that fostered extraordinary black achievements in writing, music, and art."--Publishers Weekly
"Lewis's book brings [Harlem's] past alive again."--The Smithsonian
"A brilliant socio-historical study that recaptures the verve and magic of those fascinating years."--Arthur P. Davis, Howard University
Includes bibliographical references and index.
About the Author
About the Author
David Levering Lewis is Martin Luther King, Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick. He is the author of several books, including King: A Biography, The Race to Fashoda: European Colonialism and African Resistance in the Scramble for Africa, and a forthcoming volume, The Life and Times of W.E.B. Du Bois.