Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe
Booklist Reviews 2014 April #1
A few pages into the finely worded, deeply evocative prologue, Guterl asks readers to set aside everything they know about Josephine Baker—but it's too late, for Guterl has already begun what almost seems a fabulous fairy tale, one commandingly, colorfully told by a masterful contemporary storyteller. Rarely does an author's voice come across as audibly as Guterl's, in cadence and sometimes in directives to the reader, and the effect is enchanting—Baker's story, even more so. Years after chanteuse-dancer Baker's soaring star fell, she rose once more, this time as a relentless civil rights advocate and the adoptive mother of 12 multiracial children, the "Rainbow Tribe," whom she then raised and paraded in a theme-park-type castle, Les Milandes, in the French countryside. Here, Guterl winnows out a truth from the many fragments (in biographies, in the press, from the children themselves), positing that "it was an inspirational, exaggerated symbol of what was possible at the extreme end of wealth and fame, globally speaking, for anyone and everyone, no matter their skin tone or racial classification." A fascinating book about a magnificent woman. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.