Fun and larky. Taylor touches all the main points of Brown’s story: the childhood in poverty, the early striving, the first big break, the savvy businessman, the exacting bandleader, the ladies man, the dabbler in social activism, the musical innovations, and just barely enough of the late, difficult to watch James Brown to claim the laurels of authenticity. I came away entertained but not enlightened, and wondering what Spike Lee might have done with this story. Great cast. Chadwick Boseman has now done Jackie Robinson and James Brown; will biopics of great historical African American line-crossers be his specialty? I momentarily thrilled to see on IMDB that he’s booked to a project called “Black Panther,” then I clicked the link.
Absolutely marvelous book that taught me a great deal not only about its most immediate subject, the Great Migration, but about race in America more generally. You learn an awful lot reading this — Wilkerson did an incredible amount of research — but it’s no textbook. Wilkerson uses the simple but effective device of choosing three people who left the South, and structuring her narrative around their life stories. So it’s as much a triple biography of three very interesting characters as it is a work of general history. Highly recommended.