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Deidre's Book Reviews

Freedman's Voice that Challenged A Nation

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Freedman, Russell. 2004. VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A

                 NATION: MARIAN ANDERSON AND THE STRUGGLE

                 FOR EQUAL RIGHTS. New York:Clarion Books.

                 ISBN: 0-618-15976-2

 

 

 

Freedman’s book describes the extraordinary life and struggles of legendary African American singer, Marian Anderson.  The biography is used to illustrate the hardships Anderson endured while she was determined to pursue a career as a singer.

 

There are numerous actual photographs throughout the book that help to capture the emotions and determination of the singer.  Some of the photographs included in the book represent the prejudice actions that Anderson was faced with during her youth and adult life. 

 

The black and white photographs are accompanied by captions that help describe the events that took place in the singer’s life.  Just skimming through the photographs gives the reader a good overview of the book.  The captioned photographs can also help the reader’s visual literacy skills. When reading this book aloud, it would be beneficial to only look and discover the captioned photographs first.  The captions are full of vital information and help the reader understand the surroundings and environment of the early 1900s.  For example, there is a photograph that includes a “Colored Waiting Room” area with the caption, “In the segregated South, Jim Crow laws required black train passengers to use separate coaches and waiting rooms.”     

     

This book goes through a detailed timeline to give the reader a sense of how the singer became a crusader for artists of color.  It explains in full detail, how she helped to break racial barriers to end the segregation in the arts. 

 

Voice that Challenged a Nation gives such incredible insight to the life of Marian Anderson.  It is at times, shocking to read about how she was denied the right to attend high school, even after the money had been raised and donated for her.

 

The personal quotes and statements of Anderson add sufficient detail to the book and get the reader involved personally with Anderson’s experiences.  They helped to create an interest in her life and accomplishments.

 

Many of the events described in the book help the reader gain an understanding of why Anderson was as determined and successful as a black singing female during the age of Civil Rights – born only a short while after slavery ended.

 

The format and design of the book reflect Freedman’s style and grace as a nonfiction writer.  The chapters are sectioned and spaced appropriately – while building up curiosity and anticipation with each chapter.  The book is compiled into eight small chapters, creatively titled. 

 

After the eighth chapter, the author has included chapter notes consisting of citations to the sources of quoted material used throughout the book.  Following the notes is a selected bibliography.  Freedman writes about how important and beneficial two books are for learning about Marian Anderson’s life and career.

 

To further educate readers and influence them to continue studying her works, Marian Anderson’s releases are listed in a selected discography.  It lists CDs (compilations of earlier recordings) that are currently available to the public.  Acknowledgements, picture credits and an index complete the astounding biography.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last updated: March 19, 2005