The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

Book - 2015
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"Describes the cruelty and prevalent racial prejudice in early-twentieth-century America that resulted in a Congolese man being featured in an exhibit in the 1904 World's Fair and then displayed in the Monkey House of a New York zoo,"--Amazon.com.
Publisher: New York, NY : Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015.
ISBN: 9780062201003
Branch Call Number: 967.51 BENGA
Characteristics: xvi, 297 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm.
Alternative Title: Life of Ota Benga


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Jun 30, 2018

Loved the style of this book. Half narrative of Obenga's incredibly tragic life half history of Leopold's genocide at the turn of the 20th century in the Congo and history of post reconstruction Jim Crow America. The book itself takes place in an interesting time and frames of shifting white supremacist values of the time more accurately than many things I've read. You see the dying of the old southern confederation racism. That is the politics of groups like the KKK, and their dream of re-enslavement and a return to the antebellum American South. This contrasts with the scientific white supremacy of the founders of modern zoological and anthropology. Men like Madison Grant (the man who internationalized the racist pseudoscience of "Eugenics" and deeply influenced the worldview of early Nazism and Hitler himself) to Henry Ford all the way to TDR had a hand in the capture and display of this man zoo's and fairs all throughout America. At a time when these politics are rearing their ugly head again this book gives a clear and disturbing picture about the world those ideas were born in.

SnoIsleLib_BrianH Jun 02, 2017

The author Pamela Newkirk presents the shameful episode first thing in this book. Immediately reading about Ota Benga's plight captured my attention. --Two years after an appearance at the 1904 St. Louis World Fair, Ota Benga was brought to the New York Zoological Park (better known as the Bronx Zoo), where he was locked in a cage with an orangutan before a jeering throng. -- What follows is Newkirk's thorough research into the back story of Ota Benga and the numerous characters that were culpable. Any mystery or murkiness surrounding Ota Benga's story and this media sensation from the turn of the 19th century are brought to light.

Jun 28, 2015

This book does not restrict itself solely to Ota Benga's mistreatment and subsequent life but shifts focus to what was going on in Central Africa (especially King Leopold's treatment of fellow Africans) at this time.


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Jun 30, 2018

ABou1391 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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