Sambo : The Rise and Demise of an American Jester

3.85 (14 ratings by Goodreads)
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Before the tumultuous events of the 1960's ended his long life, "Sambo" prevailed in American culture as the cheerful and comical entertainer. This stereotypical image of the black male, which developed during the Colonial period, extended into all regions and classes, pervading all levels of popular culture for over two centuries. It stands as an outstanding example of how American society has used humor oppressively. Joseph Boskin's Sambo provides a comprehensive history of this American icon's rise and decline, tracing the image of "Sambo" in circuses and minstrel shows, in comic strips and novels, in children's stories, in advertisements and illustrations, in films and slides, in magazines and newspapers, and in knick-knacks found throughout the house. He demonstrates how the stereotype began to unravel in the 1930's with several radio series, specifically the Jack Benny show, which undercut and altered the "Sambo" image. Finally, the democratic thrust of World War II, coupled with the advent of the Civil Rights movement and growing national recognition of prominent black comedians in the 1950's and '60's, laid Sambo to rest.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 140 x 217 x 10mm | 368g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195056582
  • 9780195056587
  • 2,209,994

Review quote

"A first-rate addition to cultural history."-Booklist "An excellent book."-L. Cassuto, Fordham University, Lincoln Center "This is very good-I will probably assign it the next time I teach my American humor course."-Dr. Thomas Altherr, Metropolitan State College "A good investment for readers who want to know how it really was."-West Coast Review of Books "Deserves a reading by everyone interested in race and American popular culture. Highly recommended."-Library Journal "A model of American studies methodology and a premier popular culture study of a troublesome, yet fascinating American icon....A signal contribution to the study of the influence of popular culture upon American race relations."-Choice "A major contribution to the study of stereotypes, the history of theatricals and other entertainments in America, and the analysis of material culture in the United States."-The Philadelphia Inquirer "Intriguing, witty, and often insightful social history."-The New York Times Book Review "A major contribution to an important topic in Afro-American history. Boskin has written a book that is both readable and informative and will add substantially to the scholarship in the field."-Journal of Southern History "One of those rare works whose appearance must provoke astonishment that no previous author has ever tackled it."-American Quarterly
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About Joseph Boskin

About the Author:
Joseph Boskin is Professor of History and Afro-American Studies and Director of the Urban Studies and Public Policy Program at Boston University. He is the author of Into Slavery and Humor and Social Change in the Twentieth Century.
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Rating details

14 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 29% (4)
4 29% (4)
3 43% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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