The Adventures of Amos 'n' Andy: A Social History of an American Phenomenon / Edition 1

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Overview

Forty million Americans indulged in a national obsession in 1930: they eagerly tuned in Amos 'n' Andy, the nightly radio comedy in which a pair of white actors portrayed the adventures of two black men making a new life in the big city. Meanwhile, some angry African Americans demanded that Amos 'n' Andy be banned, even as others gathered in the barbershops and radio stores of Harlem to chuckle over the adventures of Amos, Andy, and the Kingfish.

Melvin Patrick Ely unveils a fascinating tale of America's shifting color line, in which two professional directors of blackface minstrel shows manage to produce a series so rich and complex that it wins admirers ranging from ultra-racists to outspoken racial egalitarians. Eventually, the pair stir further controversy when they bring their show to television.

In a preface written especially for this new edition of his acclaimed classic, Ely shows how white and black responses to his Adventures of Amos 'n' Andy since 1991 tell a revealing story of their own about racial hopes and fears at the turn of the twenty-first century.

University of Virginia Press

In 1930, 40 million Americans tuned in to Amos 'n' Andy, a radio serial created and acted by two white men, about the adventures of two southern blacks Ely follows the history of the show, discusses the strange charm of the scripts, and the serial's impact on racial issues.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
Compelling... a stunningly objective look at the history of the program and how it affected, and was affected by, the culture at large.... Remarkable.
New Yorker
Amos 'n' Andy was an instant success, and went on to become both a national institution and a subject of racial controversy; Mr. Ely's sensitive and scholarly work shows us why.
San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
Engaging.... [Ely] does a brilliant job of sorting out what is in many ways a hellishly complex story.... With exemplary scholarship and well-reasoned eloquence, he advances us a long way toward understanding, while also vividly revealing some unsettling aspects of our culture that shouldn't be forgotten.
From the Publisher
An engrossing, perhaps definitive, account of one of the most fascinating episodes in popular entertainment.

University of Virginia Press

Maureen Corrigan
Painfully funny... ironic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813920924
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 322
  • Sales rank: 1,231,919
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Melvin Patrick Ely is Newton Family Professor of History and Black Studies at the College of William and Mary.

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 White Men, Black Voices 1
2 Boyhood Dreams and Racial Myths 11
3 Jefferson Snowball, Traveling Minstrel 26
4 Inventing Radio and Toying with Color 47
5 The Great Black Migration into America's Living Room 64
6 The Mystic Knights and Their Ladies 97
7 Amos 'n' Andy's Balancing Act 115
8 A Changing Racial Landscape 130
9 The Black Debate Begins 160
10 "This Continuing Harm" 194
Epilogue: A New Day? 245
A Personal Postscript 255
Notes 259
A Word About Sources 301
Index 310
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