Born into a broken home in Joplin, Missouri in 1902, Langston Hughes was to become one of the foremost poets of his time. A remarkably prolific creative mind, Hughes is known for his stories, plays, essays, newspaper columns, opera librettos and even scripts for early television programs. His lasting fame, however, is that of one of America's greatest writers of verse. Hughes spoke out against the controversial "Jim Crow" laws in the south, which discriminated against blacks and kept them from participating in the electoral process. Later, he came under fire for his alleged communist sympathies and was required to testify before McCarthy in the infamous congressional hearings. The book's title comes from one of Hughes's famous poems, which pays homage to another poem by Walt Whitman, while at the same time effectively pointing out the inequities among the races during the decades preceding the turbulent sixties. Part of the "World Writers" series, included in this biography are black-and-white photographs, a timeline, source list, bibliography and index.
Gr 6-9-This biography joins a number of others about Hughes. Unfortunately, it adds no new insights or facts about his life. Written in a rather plodding and pedestrian style, it fails to capture the poet's extraordinary life and does a poor job of placing him within the context of his time. As a result, readers come away from this work with little sense of the man as the exceptionally influential figure he was, especially during the Harlem Renaissance and in the 1970s. There is also little sense of how remarkable his many associates were, the artists and political activists who helped shape the cultural scene of the '20s and '30s. There are also some misstatements of fact in the book. The author states that the Scottsboro boys, nine young black men accused of raping two white women in Alabama in the 1930s, were all eventually paroled or escaped. This is not true. She also says that Martin Luther King, Jr., organized the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He did not. That distinction belongs to Ella Baker. Poor-quality, black-and-white photos are scattered throughout the text. Milton Meltzer's Langston Hughes (Millbrook, 1997) is more compelling, richly illustrated, and touches on Hughes's homosexuality, a subject Rhynes does not discuss.-Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.