Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday, Cafe Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights

by David Margolick (Author), David Margolick (Author), Hilton Als (Foreword)


This is the story of the song that foretold a movement and the Lady who dared sing it. Billie Holiday's signature tune, 'Strange Fruit', with its graphic and heart-wrenching portrayal of a lynching in the South, brought home the evils of racism as well as being an inspiring mark of resistance. The song's powerful, evocative lyrics - written by a Jewish communist schoolteacher - portray the lynching of a black man in the South. In 1939, its performance sparked controversy (and sometimes violence) wherever Billie Holiday went. Not until sixteen years later did Rosa Parks refuse to yield her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Yet 'Strange Fruit' lived on, and Margolick chronicles its effect on those who experienced it first-hand: musicians, artists, journalists, intellectuals, students, budding activists, even the waitresses and bartenders who worked the clubs.


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More Information

Format: Paperback
Pages: 176
Edition: Main
Publisher: Canongate Books
Published: 04 Jul 2002

ISBN 10: 1841952842
ISBN 13: 9781841952840

Media Reviews
This is how cultural history should be told. * * Buzz * *
These admiring and admirable pages put both the issues and the verses chicly in perspective for a new century that show few signs of growing out of the need for such spirited arias of rage. * * Spectator * *
Compelling biography of arguably the greatest song ever written. Margolick has written a fascinating study of the song's unique power, and if you're feeling strong, a free CD of Holiday's recording comes with the book. * * Uncut * *
His prose is an elegant and pared-down as the song, evocative of a brutal period in America's history. * * Q Magazine * *
Thanks to a panoply of revealing interviews, Margolick shows how a single 12-line song became a lightning-rod for US attitudes to race. * * Independent * *
Author Bio
David Margolick is a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. Prior to that, he was the national legal affairs correspondent for the New York Times. He has written four books: Undue Influence: The Epic Battle for the Johnson & Johnson Fortune, At the Bar: Passions and Peccadillos of American Lawyers (a collection of his law columns for the New York Times), Strange Fruit and Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink. He has been nominated four times for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City.