Returning December 30
Antoine Sanfuentes, who as senior vice president of NBC News is the highest ranking Latino journalist at a major mainstream television network, is leaving NBC after spending his career there, Sanfuentes confirmed Tuesday for Journal-isms.
Steve Penn, former columnist at the Kansas City Star, has written "Case for a Pardon: The Pete O'Neal Story" (Pennbooks, $24.95 paperback).
Penn, fired from the Star two years ago for running unaltered or barely altered press releases in his column, turned his attention to writing about Felix Lindsey "Pete" O'Neal.
O'Neil, now 73, led the Kansas City chapter of the Black Panther Party from 1969 until his arrest in 1970 for transporting a shotgun across state lines. While out on bail, O'Neal fled to Sweden, then Algeria and eventually Tanzania.
Penn's self-published book could benefit from better editing, but he bolsters his case with a foreword from Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., who writes that O'Neal's "courage helped to create the America we know today." Cleaver appeared with Penn in appearances promoting the book.
Penn writes, "O'Neal has long served out his punishment. He has been in a type of isolation, in a sort of cage unable to see his mother, attend his father's funeral, unable to enjoy the city he was born in. Now his only hope of return may be in the form of a presidential pardon. And that's a tall request indeed. It's the ultimate long shot. It may or may not ever happen. What is clear is that without a full explanation of his life, each section examined and reexamined, it probably will never happen. This is that autopsy."
Alison Stewart has written "First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School," (Chicago Review Press, $26.95 hardcover; $21.99 ebook).
"After zig zagging from MTV to CBS to ABC to MSNBC to PBS, Stewart's latest incarnation is as author," Gail Shister wrote in August for MediaBistro. " 'First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America's First Black Public High School,' her inaugural book, was released earlier this month. Both her parents graduated from the Washington, D.C. school.
"Stewart began working on 'Dunbar' in 2006, while at MSNBC. Five years later, she left her job as cohost of PBS’s 'Need to Know' to focus fulltime on the book, and to care for her ailing parents. They later died.
"'I always wanted to write a book,' says Stewart, 47, a Brown alum. 'I had been offered a "Hey, I was at MTV, then at the networks, what did I see?" deal, and maybe I'll write that book someday, but I wanted to dig into something that would have some kind of lasting value beyond being entertaining.'
"Stewart found herself in a race against time, since many of the early Dunbar grads were in their 80s and 90s. She recorded their memories of the legendary school, which in its prime produced the first black member of a presidential Cabinet, the first black general of the U.S. Army and the first black federal judge.
"'I loved talking to people, going into their homes, spending hours with them,' says Stewart, who often traveled by bus from New York and crashed on friends' couches to minimize expenses. 'The research was my favorite part. You discover things. It’s a little bit art, a little bit archeology.'"
Stewart writes in the book, "The story of Dunbar shows what can happen in spite of huge legal, societal, and professional hurdles. It shows what is possible when a group of people focus and band together to make something better. Dunbar shows what happens when a stable middle class exists. And Dunbar shows us that politics pollutes education. And through all this, Dunbar helped create the greatest generations of African Americans."
Touré, author, cultural critic and MSNBC co-host, has written "I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon" (Atria Books, $19.99 hardcover; $10.99 ebook).
"This extended essay — based on a series of lectures that Touré delivered last year at Harvard — argues that Prince tapped into the zeitgeist of the late 1970s and ’80s, when such albums as 'Controversy' and '1999' provided the soundtrack to so many coming-of-age stories,"Jen Chaney wrote in the Washington Post.
"Though Prince is a baby boomer — born in 1958, roughly a decade before Xers arrived on Earth — he has lived a life, the author argues, 'that uniquely prepared him to understand the gen X experience.'
"According to the book, that experience was defined by several factors: an increase in the divorce rate, a phenomenon that, as the child of a ruptured marriage, Prince subtly alludes to in his music; apathy toward solving socio-political problems (Touré cites the song '1999' as a prime example of apocalyptic indifference); and heightened sexual awareness, which is conveyed in, well, pretty much every Prince song ever.
"If this all sounds a bit too academic to be enjoyable, that’s not the case. Touré, co-host of the MSNBC program 'The Cycle,' is an engaging and smart writer, one who makes his arguments with plenty of backup via fascinating interviews with Prince’s colleagues, friends, notable proteges (Questlove, drummer for the Roots and self-proclaimed Prince scholar, makes several appearances) as well as the book’s subject himself."
Dave Bry, writing in the New Republic, dissented, writing, "The project would better serve as an article in an academic journal or a short lecture."
But David Chiu of CBS News said the book "serves as both a reaffirmation of Prince's greatness and a look at the aspects of his life that perhaps people don't know about. 'I think he goes into more proper context when you understand the depth of the religious conversation in his music," said Toure, 'and not just this sort of sexual being. His devotion to Jesus Christ is really clear through his music. The religious discussion is far more specific than even the sexual conversation. And you notice that religion sometimes creeps into the sexual songs like 'Adore,' never the other way around. The religious songs have this sanctimonious place to him. The religion is part of the sex to him.' . . ."
Chaney concluded, "Touré will surely persuade Prince followers to revisit their messiah's work and, perhaps, see something wholly new underneath the purple rain."
- Cliff Parks blog: Book Review: I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became An Icon