Review: The Pullman Porter by Vanita Oelschlager

The Pullman Porter by Vanit Oelschlager
The Pullman Porter
The Pullman Porter, written by Vanita Oelschlager, would be published by Vanita Books in May, 2014.

History in itself is so vast and full of variety that it never fails to amaze you with how small and inconsequential events and unimportant personalities end up creating something with overreaching consequences. American history is no less interesting with many a books already having been written about it. I have recently bought A History of the American People by Paul Johnson but haven't started it yet owing to its size and the unhindered dedication it requires in terms of reading effort - both due to the 1000+ pages and Paul Johnson's gift as an acclaimed writer. Though large, voluminous books always attract me, of late the ones which delve in enough detail for one to start with a topic have interested me as well. On twitter, History In An Hour tweets about its recent books and other blog posts which give you a fair overview of history in, well actually under, an hour. Its founder Rupert Colley is a former librarian and is currently penning historical fiction.

The role which trains have played in getting countries connected is a story told often and especially the American one. Various documentaries and shows on Discovery Channel have covered in vivid detail how testing were the conditions in which the railroads were setup in America. But I didn't know until I read this book was how porters have played an important role in the building and development of the American-African middle class. Vanita's book is primarily aimed at children, but can nonetheless make for an interesting read for adults as well with the colorful graphics and pensive underpinnings.

A New York Times blog about the same makes for a good read.

Arlo Guthrie - City of New Orleans (recommended by Vanita)

Many interesting historical snippets caught my attention in the book: Malcolm X, whose movie I believe is highly underrated on IMDB, was a descendant of a Pullman Porter and that E.D. Nixon was himself a Pullman Porter! At the same time the book is also a reflection of the inhumanly existence American-Africans and how the Civil Rights Movement was a step in the right direction of reclaiming their lost dignity.

An interesting and a short pictorial book to educate your children about the Pullman Porters and the redeeming of just rights.

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