A Plus Book Club

The A Plus Book Club Is Ending Summer With Significance And 'Spectacle'

As fellow NAACP Image Award winner Oprah would know, sometimes it's the tough stories that are the most important to tell.

To end summer with significance, the A Plus Book Club is exploring a controversial moment in our nation's history with Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Dr. Pamela Newkirk, an award-winning journalist. Winner of the NAACP Image Award, this historical nonfiction book tells the story of Ota Benga, a young African man who was kept in a cage with an orangutan in the Bronx Zoo's Monkey House in the early 20th century.

Winner of the NAACP Image Award, this historical nonfiction book tells the story of Ota Benga, a young African man, who was kept in a cage with an orangutan in the Bronx Zoo's Monkey House in the early twentieth century.

"While many aspects of the story that follows seem unfathomable, every scene, quotation, and observation is drawn from historical accounts preserved in letters, newspaper articles, diaries, anthropological field notes, and other historical documents," Newkirk explains in her Author's Note, which opens the book. "... This is wholly a work of nonfiction intended to chronicle the life and times of a man at the turn of the twentieth century, a period marked by Westerners' conquest of Africa and its people, and everywhere, it seemed, by an inversion of the meanings of good and evil, black and white." 

Emily and I will discuss both the historical and present-day relevance of this book and what we all can learn from it in our next Facebook Live interview with Pamela Newkirk at 11 a.m. on August 17. And even though we'll be delving into a difficult topic, we'll still be doing so with full glasses (and we encourage you to as well!). So in the meantime, you know what to do: sit back, sip, and take in the Spectacle

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