Oakland is a blues city, brawling and husky....
Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty - mountains and hills and lakes and a bay - and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, Gold Rush outpost, and home of the West’s most devious robber barons. It’s also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.
In Blues City, Ishmael Reed, one of our most brilliant essayists, takes us on a tour of Oakland, exploring its fascinating history, its beautiful hills and waterfronts, and its odd cultural juxtapositions. He takes us into a year in the life of this amazing city, to black cowboy parades and Indian powwows, to Black Panther reunions and Gay Pride concerts, to a Japanese jazz club where a Lakota musician plays Coltrane’s "Naima". Reed provides a fascinating tour of an un-tamed, unruly western outpost set against the backdrop of political intrigues, ethnic rivalries, and a gentrification-obsessed mayor, opening our eyes not only to a singular city, but to a newly emerging America.
"Reed, novelist, poet, and longtime Oakland resident, offers an eclectic look at the multicultural city that thrives in the shadow of the better known and celebrated San Francisco.... Reed offers a historic overview as well as acerbic commentary on the political and cultural scene of Oakland." (Booklist)
What listeners say about Blues City
Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.
Great - but where it Mumbo Jumbo?
This is a really interesting and well researched tour of Oakland, one of my favourite American cities. But it is written by one of the greatest American twentieth century writers. Where are the rest of his works? I think you need to think again, and publish all of his 45 volumes.
Not Present Day Oakland
I did not approach Mr. Reed's book ignorant of his POV having read his first book, Freelance Pallbearers, more than 30 years ago, but I expected this book about Oakland to be a little more balanced. I was wrong. Mind you, I am not insensitive to the challenges cities such as Oakland face having been born and raised in Detroit and worked and still do business in Oakland, but come on. This book ascribes value to contributions made to the city based on the color of one's skin... white bad, everyone else good. There isn't a page Mr. Reed fails to bash Mayor of Oakland and former Governor of California, Jerry Brown, arguably one of the most liberal, progressive politicians in the last quarter century. He even makes derogatory comments about Jerry Brown's physical appearance. A large portion of the book is spent glorifying the history of the Black Panthers and ends with a verbatim bus tour narration of historical Black Panther Party sites with heated 60's rhetoric intact. The Oakland I know is one of the most multiethnic, diverse, racially tolerant cities in the US. The City of Oakland has evolved beyond the racially polarized city depicted in this book.
15 people found this helpful