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Josephine Baker: Image & Icon by Edited by Olivia Lahs-Gonzales

What would jazz be without the legendary Josephine Baker? She was a classic, unique unto herself, and this fine book is a non-fiction, biographical look at what, who, and where she was. Carefully edited by Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, the book also includes essays by Bennetta Jules-Rosette, Tyler Stovall, and Olivia Lahs-Gonzales.

This book is rich with photographs, many of which will be new viewing for the audience. The text is concise, clear, and smooth reading. In addition to photos, there are many color illustrations.

Josephine Baker was one of the most celebrated African American entertainers of the 20th Century, whose appeal found interest with all cultures. A fine look at her life as a woman, performer, innovator, and the Paris jazz age make Josephine Baker: Image & Icon a perfect reading entertainment.

As a woman, Josephine Bakers talent crossed all lines and had a wide and far-reaching appeal. She was beautiful and she had a sensitive soul. These two aspects placed her at the front of the jazz scene in 1920s Paris. Baker was in Paris France when F. Scott Fitzgerald Ernest Hemingway and other notables were living there. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis Missouri in 1906 she ran away from home at age thirteen and joined a traveling road show. When she came to Paris she starred in the stunning musical revue titled "La Revue Negre." Her bold imaginative performances often in the nude caused sensation and interest! Baker's great talent as a stage performer was always evident and she did much to advance American jazz in Europe. That she had a hypnotic effect and affect on the audience is readily seen in this comment from the book:

"Was in there one night with Don Ogden Stewart and Waldo Pierce when the place was set on fire by the most sensational woman anybody ever saw. Or ever will. Tall coffee skin ebony eyes legs of paradise and a smile to end all smiles..." --- Ernest Hemingway

It is a fair observation to say that Josephine Baker was a modern woman ahead of her times. Her comments her approach to living a meaningful life and her actions said so. That she had a wry sense of humor was also evident. The section "Images of Josephine" starting on page 71 reveals the many faces of this fabulous woman and the posters are excellent. Every plate is an interesting look at an interesting lady. The photo of her on page 40 reflects the image most people held of her respectfully in the 1920s for she was after all an icon. Baker's bravery and strength against the Nazi arrival in Paris during World War II is well-known.

This is a book to have in your home library. As an educational and enjoyable reference work it should be in the public library for jazz reading patrons and for all persons interested in what this beautiful gifted woman from the state of Missouri accomplished in the world of jazz. Topnotch reading topnotch visuals topnotch enjoyment abound in Josephine Baker: Image & Icon. Josephine Baker is recognized by critics as one of the great jazz dancers of all time.

Highly recommended. Josephine Baker: Image & Icon is a perfect book about an American jazz legend and well worth your reading time.

Additional Info

  • Book Title: Josephine Baker: Image & Icon
  • Author: Edited by Olivia Lahs-Gonzales
  • Publisher: Reedy Press
  • Year Published: 2006
  • Book Type:: Biography
  • ISBN: 1933370025
  • Rating: Five Stars
  • Number of Pages: 159
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