Josephine: The Hungry Heart

Overview

Based on twenty years of research and thousands of interviews, this authoritative biography of performer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) provides a candid look at her tempestuous life. Born into poverty in St. Louis, the uninhibited chorus girl became the sensation of Europe and the last century's first black sex symbol. A heroine of the French Resistance in World War II, she entranced figures as diverse as de Gaulle, Tito, Castro, Princess Grace, two popes, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet Josephine was also, as one ...
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Josephine: The Hungry Heart

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Overview

Based on twenty years of research and thousands of interviews, this authoritative biography of performer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) provides a candid look at her tempestuous life. Born into poverty in St. Louis, the uninhibited chorus girl became the sensation of Europe and the last century's first black sex symbol. A heroine of the French Resistance in World War II, she entranced figures as diverse as de Gaulle, Tito, Castro, Princess Grace, two popes, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet Josephine was also, as one critic put it, "a monster who made Joan Crawford look like the Virgin Mary." Jean-Claude Baker's book also reveals her outbursts that resulted in lasting feuds, her imperious treatment of family and entourage members, and her ambivalent attitudes concerning her ethnic background. Reconciling Josephine's many personas—Jazz-age icon, national hero of France, proponent of Civil Rights, mother of children from across the globe—Josephine: The Hungry Heart gives readers the inside story on a star unlike any other before or since.

The true story of the great entertainer's life, told for the first time by a man to whom she became a second mother. Josephine kept her past a secret while she lived, but this biography--filled with never-before-revealed facts and anecdotes--exposes her amazing life. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

The Boston Globe
In this biography, Baker, all illusions exposed, becomes fascinating, endearing, exasperating, and abundantly alive all over again.
The New York Times
Mesmerizing…irresistible…perversely fascinating…a killer achievement. Here is Josephine stripped of glamour and defenses…one of the most paradoxical figures in twentieth-century entertainment.
Entertainment Weekly
Spiced with some of the best anecdotes in print, and even spicier photos.
Maya Angelou
The writer's bewitchment is contagious. [Josephine's] exotic beauty, flaming ambition, flashing eyes, rolling hips, small and large peculiarities seduce the reader.
Helen Mirren
I was just reading the brilliant Josephine Baker book Josephine: The Hungry Heart by Jean-Claude Baker. It's un-put-downable. It's full of her life and energy.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The dancer and stage idol Josephine Baker 1906-1975 has smitten audiences and biographers during her life and since, but here the chronicler is someone special: one of her ``Baker's dozen'' of adopted children. Working in collaboration with freelance writer Chase, the French-born Jean-Claude--``I've never even been her fan,'' he claims--offers an effusive, peppy version of Baker's long and restless professional and personal saga. The drama began inauspiciously in St. Louis, Mo., and ended in Paris; most of the story centers on Baker's private and public bravado as she won fame, first among Parisians in 1925 in La Revue Negre , for her onstage eroticism and what she called her ``frenzy.'' Seduction was one of her career's persistent themes: seduction of men and of a public by an African American star who almost always had to consider the power of racism in society. The fact that she was given little as a child, as the book recounts, may have made Baker both generous and rapacious as an adult, and her son offers countless tales, remembered conversations and amusing Gallic gush, as well as details of the colorful past and present of the ``rainbow tribe'' of his siblings. He is proprietor of Chez Josephine, a Manhattan restaurant and nightclub. Photos not seen by PW . Feb.
Library Journal
Nearly two decades after her death, the legend of Josephine Baker continues to flourish. Subject of a number of books and recent films, ``the most successful music hall performer ever to take the stage'' according to Ebony magazine was larger than life: She was the toast of Paris in the 1920s, star of stage and screen in the 1930s, Red Cross volunteer and undercover agent in World War II, participant in the 1963 Civil Rights Movement march on Washington, and star of several farewell and comeback tours. Baker adopted 12 children of different races and called them her ``rainbow tribe.'' Jean-Claude, ``the 13th of her twelve adopted children,'' and Chase have crafted a biography rich in anecdotes and personal recollections of many of her fellow entertainers. This intriguing story is recommended for most public libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/93.-- Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815411727
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 591,182
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.11 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean-Claude Baker spent years with his "second mother" Josephine Baker and her family on tour in Europe and America. Currently owner of the restaurant Chez Josephine, he lives in New York City. Chris Chase also lives in New York City.
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