Briefly Noted Book Reviews | The New Yorker

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Pantheon). This compendium takes its title from a 1957 book by the Jamaican-born American journalist and historian Joel A. Rogers, which was marketed as a black version of Robert Ripley’s “Believe It or Not!” Gates observes that Rogers occasionally embellished facts to live up to that comparison, but he also celebrates Rogers’s achievement in challenging the notions that black life was not worthy of study and that black people had made no significant contributions to history. Gates has reimagined Rogers’s book for a twenty-first-century audience. In one chapter, he describes advances in DNA technology that have determined how much African ancestry the average African-American has (73.2 per cent), and have shown that a…

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