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On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance
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On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  87 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
From 1920 to 1940, the Harlem Renaissance produced a bright beacon of light that paved the way for African-Americans all over the country. The unapologetic writings of W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, the fervent fiction and poetry of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes, the groundbreaking art of Aaron Douglas and William H. Johnson, and the triumphant music of Duke ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2007)
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Jan 28, 2012 Bill rated it really liked it
I generally hate it when authors insert themselves as subjects of histories and other people's biographies. But this mix of memoir and history of the Harlem Renaissance was actually quite interesting. I guess, when the author is as accomplished in their own right as the subjects of the book, I can give said author a bit of license. Sometimes I found the links Abdul-Jabbar was trying to make between himself and the Harlem Renaissance a bit tenuous. Other than that, though, the book is incredibly ...more
Erin Cataldi
May 15, 2014 Erin Cataldi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
This is hands down a must read! When my uncle suggested I read this, I was skeptical. It didn't look all that amazing. But he finally wore me down and I'm so glad he did, because I enjoyed the shit out of this work!

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar combines history and personal narratives to produce an enriched account of the Harlem Renaissance and how it impacted his personal beliefs, ideologies, and life. Kareem explores three major sections of the Harlem Renaissance: the literary achievements of black lege
Steven Spector
Sep 04, 2013 Steven Spector rated it really liked it
A true oddity. An extraordinarily intelligent sports figure sharing part of his life and his influences with you. An excellent survey which only encourages readers (without force) to seek out more on the topic.
Jan 15, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Basketball fans, Abdul-Jabar fans, Harlem Renassiance fans
This book is a great overview of the Harlem Renaissance through the lens of Lew Alcindor's (he wasn't Karrem Abdul-Jabar yet) upbringing in nearby Inwood. The book is Abdul-Jabar's view of the Harlem Renaissance.

The layout of the book is interesting. It is a long chapter detailing a certain aspect of the Harlem Renaissance (literature, poetry, basketball) followed by an essay-length chapter on how that aspect personally affected Abdul-Jabar. It may not be the best history of the Renaissance (it
Steve Fox
Nov 01, 2015 Steve Fox rated it really liked it
I'm generally just a big fan of the big man, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He was a hero growing up as a Lakers star player and I have always loved the fact that he had so much more depth to him than the typical star athlete. Even more impressive, he didn't let becoming a star change that. He's a thinker and a learner and he always will be. Thanks for the education KA-J!
Sep 20, 2015 Eric added it
Kareem has written quite a few history books. His acknowledged theme is to convey the history of African Americans that has either been ignored or misreported. I learned a lot about the Harlem Renaissance (1920-1940) and gained a greater appreciation for the depth and breadth of events of that time.
Jul 11, 2011 Steve rated it liked it
Not a straight history of the Harlem Renaissance. Rather, like most of Kareem's books, it's a history of events as perceived by him. Actually, it's about the individuals and movements in literature, basketball, and music of the Renaissance who have made a difference to him. Granted, the figures he chose are nearly universal in their import, but this is a history through Kareem's personal lens. So for those who love him, this will be a great read. For the haters, the converse will be true. For mo ...more
Rives Coleman
Mar 02, 2015 Rives Coleman rated it it was amazing
This was a tremendous book that spanned both culture and sports within the Harlem Renaissance. I found a lot of value in this book and learned a great deal!
Thomas Ponce
Aug 21, 2014 Thomas Ponce rated it really liked it
A very good book that discusses the history on the Harlem Renaissance. Kareems personal experiences are mentioned the book isn't concentrated on him.
Jul 14, 2015 Nelson rated it it was amazing
I was watching the BYU vs. UCLA Las Vegas Bowl when I saw UCLA run this ad: and learned that Kareem was a history major.

A few years ago I found this book at the bargain bin at Borders.

He wasn't alive during the Harlem Renaissance (don't be silly) but the greats of the Renaissance deeply influenced him. This book introduced me to how events unfolded during that era.

Sep 29, 2007 Michele rated it liked it
Shelves: history
A great historical review of the Harlem Renaissance and its many players. A little tougher to make the connection between the author and that history, but still interesting. I found the writing fairly uneven -- it appeared from the headings that Abdul-Jabbar wrote pieces and the ghostwriter wrote pieces. I preferred Kareem's voice and would have liked to read more from him!
Aug 28, 2008 Gilbert rated it really liked it
Shelves: done-read
Very enjoyable & informative overview of the Harlem Renaissance, & how it impacted the life of Kareem Abdul-Jabar. Very enjoyable whether or not you are a basketball fan, and helpful for me to understand this era of American history.
Jul 06, 2007 Oscar rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: kids
Semi-encyclopedic account of Kareem's interest in Harlem. Leans heavily on honorific adjectives as he describes Harlem figures. Good basketball details and excellent picture of Cab Calloway looking to play some tough D.
Aug 05, 2014 Lamarr rated it really liked it
I found It fascinating and informative. I paticularly found the story of the migration to Harlem by blacks at the turn of the last century eye opening.
I loved this book. Good job Kareem!!
Oct 26, 2014 Christopher rated it really liked it
Actually finished this six years ago or so after I last logged in to Goodreads.
Karen Brown
Aug 14, 2012 Karen Brown rated it it was amazing
So far, I'm really enjoying this. It's a refreshing way to explore history.
Jul 09, 2012 Larry rated it liked it
Harlem Renaissance through Jabbar's eyes.
Παναγιώτης Δημόπουλος
Dec 18, 2007 Παναγιώτης Δημόπουλος rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: me
i haven't read this yet, but it's great
Wayne E.
Wayne E. rated it it was amazing
Feb 10, 2016
Sonia marked it as to-read
Feb 07, 2016
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Hatem K marked it as to-read
Feb 02, 2016
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Katie Pugliese marked it as to-read
Feb 01, 2016
Alex is currently reading it
Jan 25, 2016
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Jan 19, 2016
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. on April 16, 1947 in New York City, New York, United States) is an American former professional basketball player and current assistant coach. Typically referred to as Lew Alcindor in his younger days, he changed his name when he converted to Islam.
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