Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

This was an interesting story about an interesting man. My only criticism is that the book often repeated itself. The first three quarters of the book were spent endlessly praising Binga, almost to a fault - again, often repeating things already said without advancing the story in any meaningful way. Then, suddenly, without warning, the last quarter focuses on his trial and imprisonment, which feels a little rushed compared to the time spent heaping praise. The material for a good book is all there, but the emphasis and organization left a lot to be desired.
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This biography of Jesse Binga, Chicago's first black millionaire was really interesting.
It told the story of Jesse's rise to economic prosperity, and also his fall, which can be attributed to various reasons. However, the main issue was the amount of power and wealth he had amassed and his threat to the status quo, ie: whites in Chicago. Those who were not happy about his lead a campaign to destroy his empire.
A great biography of a man who seized every opportunity that came his way, and never let anything stop him.
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I read an ARC version from NetGalley and was glad to discover a new Chicago leader. 

A brief review of what I liked and what could be improved.


- Introduced a pivotal leader of the black community in Chicago during much of the 20th century
-Well documented 
- As someone who grew up in Chicago, the depiction of life during Binga's era matched stories my grandparents told
- Key players are easily researched
- Images were quite helpful in telling the story


- The book meandered thru the story and the author often repeated himself for no clear reason
- It felt like I was reading a Senior history thesis rather than a biography of an influencer

Not a bad book but could benefit from better writing/editing.
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This was a splendid book about a fascinating character..  Everyone should be warned as well as inspired by Mr. Binga's story.  The author did a wonderful job telling his story.
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This is a unique and well delivered challenge. The book is carefully researched,well written and interesting to read. The character of Binga is exceedingly well drawn,making the reader feel familiar with his personality from the beginning. The accompanying pictures are important too. Giving prominence to the first Black banker is important but the real importance if the book lies in the astute and informative detail about racial tensions in Chicago and beyond. The strong character needed to overcome the obstacles to the advancement of black people put in place by the system and by whites is well demonstrated through using Binga as the example of how it can be challenged. This book's importance is as much about its contribution to understanding racism as it is about recording the life of one able black person.
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