Cooper, Michael L. 1950–
Cooper, Michael L. 1950–
Born July 6, 1950. Education: University of Kentucky, B.A. (English), 1974; City University of New York, M.A. (history), 1989.
Home—Lexington, KY. E-mail—[email protected]
Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Children's Book Guild of Washington, DC, PEN American Center, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Organization of American Historians.
Golden Kite Best Nonfiction Book designation, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, 2004, and Capital Choices inclusion, 2005, both for Dust to Eat; Carter G. Woodson Award, National Council of the Social Studies, 2003, for Remembering Manzanar.
Racing Sled Dogs, Clarion (New York, NY), 1988.
Klondike Fever: The Famous Gold Rush of 1898, Clarion (New York, NY), 1989.
Playing America's Game: The Story of Negro League Baseball, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1993.
Bound for the Promised Land: The Great Black Migration, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1995.
Hell Fighters: African-American Soldiers in World War I, Lodestar (New York, NY), 1997.
Indian School: Teaching the White Man's Way, Clarion (New York, NY), 1999.
Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, Clarion (New York, NY), 2001.
Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp, Clarion (New York, NY), 2002.
Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s, Clarion (New York, NY), 2004.
Jamestown, 1607, Holiday House (New York, NY), 2007.
Michael L. Cooper has established a reputation as a writer of insightful nonfiction geared for young adults through books that include Bound for the Promised Land: The Great Black Migration, Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s, and Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution. Several of Cooper's books, such as Bound for the Promised Land, Hell Fighters: African American Soldiers in World War I, and Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, focus on the role played by African Americans, while other books allow the author to pursue his interest in other aspects of the nation's history, from the colonization of Jamestown through the U.S. Civil War era to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Praising Cooper's colorful biography of one of the nation's best-known Revolutionary-era naval hero, a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote of Hero of the High Seas that the author "writes with clear and lively prose, effectively incorporating quotations for dramatic effect." In each of his books Cooper includes numerous photos and other illustrations, and h inserts quotes from contemporary newspapers and other accounts in his clearly written texts. Also reviewing Hero of the High Seas, School Library Journal reviewer Michael Santangelo noted that the author's "narrative style will appeal to reluctant readers, for it reads like a chronicle of thrilling naval adventure."
In Bound for the Promised Land Cooper examines the era of 1915 to 1930 when more than a million African Americans emigrated from the rural South to urban
Northern and Midwestern states in pursuit of factory work and larger opportunities. Cooper pieces his history tog ether from first-person accounts, newspaper stories, and contemporary photographs, emphasizing living conditions in the South prior to migration, the type of neighborhoods and jobs blacks found in the North, and how this new population influenced urban U.S. culture during the early twentieth century, particularly in the Harlem Renaissance. In Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Elizabeth Bush dubbed the work a "cogent, eminently readable history," noting that the author achieves a "balanced" presentation of the Great Migration by noting the discrimination and violence blacks met in the North (as well as in the South) and presenting the conflicting voices of African-American leaders on the subject of migration. Voice of Youth Advocates reviewer Laura L. Lent, attesting to the scarcity of books on the subject, called Bound for the Promised Land "indispensable for its historical value."
Cooper focuses on the participation of American blacks in World War I in Hell Fighters. In this account of the Fifteenth New York Voluntary Infantry of the National Guard—formed in Harlem in 1916—and transformed into the 369th Regiment of the U.S. Army during the war, Cooper resurrects an important moment in the early civil rights movement, noted David A. Lindsey in SchoolLibrary Journal. The company, composed mostly of African Americans, began as poorly equipped and poorly trained volunteers in the National Guard who found little recognition from the U.S. Army for their fighting in the trenches, until the French awarded the regiment the Croix de Guerre in 1918. According to Cooper, although the Harlem press termed them "hell fighters" and they returned to the states to participate in a triumphant ticker-tape parade in New York City, the 369th was nonetheless targeted for discriminatory acts within the military after the end of the conflict in order to make sure that black soldiers would not mistakenly expect the same respect accorded white soldiers. Bush commented in another Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books article, "Cooper packs a lot into a little space in this account of the 369th Regiment."
Moving forward in time to World War II, Cooper focuses on the fate of the Japanese immigrants living in the United States during wartime in both Fighting for Honor: Japanese Americans and World War II and Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp. Highlighted with numerous photographs, Fighting for Honor follows those Japanese Americans who distinguished themselves through their service in the American military as well as the over 100,000 others who were relocated to internment camps. Noting the conflicting policy of the U.S. government in both drafting Japanese-American soldiers and interring the civilian relatives of these draftees, Randy Meyer wrote in Booklist that the author's "description of life in the camps is vivid, and the battlefield accounts are graphic and dramatic." "Cooper's awareness of the power of understatement permeates the book," commented Horn Book critic Jennifer M. Brabander, "rendering the facts all the more powerful."
In Remembering Manzanar Cooper concentrates on the result of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's decision to round up Americans of Japanese ancestry following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. He draws on oral histories, letters, newspapers, and school yearbooks in describing the experiences of the many men, women, and children who were divested of their homes and possessions and relocated to camps such as eastern California's Manzanar between 1942 and the end of the war. Including photographs by noted photojournalists Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange as well as others, the work was praised by Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman as "a moving introduction" to the period. Describing the book as an "incisive companion" to Fighting for Honor, a Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that in Remembering Manzanar Cooper combines "visuals and text [to] resolutely portray a painful chapter in America's past."
Cooper once told SATA: "Books were very important to me as a child. I was one of those kids who seemed unable to do anything very well except read. I loved books of all kinds. I hoarded them the way other boys hoarded baseball cards. Every day when I sit down to work my inspiration my hope is that my writing will nurture a similar love of books among young readers."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, January 1, 2001, Randy Meyer, review of Fighting for Honor: Japanese Americans and World War II, p. 930; December 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, p. 637; January 1, 2003, review of Remembering Manzanar: Life in a Japanese Relocation Camp, p. 156; July, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Dust to Eat: Drought and Depression in the 1930s, p. 1839; June 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Hero of the High Seas: John Paul Jones and the American Revolution, p. 98; April 15, 2007, Carolyn Phelan, review of Jamestown, 1607, p. 36.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1995, Elizabeth Bush, review of Bound for the Promised Land, p. 124; February, 1997, Elizabeth Bush, review of Hell Fighters, p. 201; February, 2001, review of Fighting for Honor, p. 219; January, 2003, review of Remembering Manzanar, p. 194; September, 2004, Elizabeth Bush, review of Dust to Eat, p. 11; February, 2007, Elizabeth Bush, review of Hero of the High Seas, p. 248.
Horn Book, March, 2001, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Fighting for Honor, p. 226; January-February, 2002, Margaret A. Bush, review of Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, p. 94.
Kansas City Star, March 28, 1993, p. J9.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Remembering Manzanar, p. 1690; August 15, 2006, review of Hero of the High Seas, p. 838; March 1, 2007, review of Jamestown, 1607, p. 219.
Publishers Weekly, November 11, 2002, review of Remembering Manzanar, p. 66.
School Library Journal, April, 1993; December, 1995, Carol Jones Collins, review of Bound for the Promised Land, p. 114; February, 1997, David A. Lindsey, review of Hell Fighters, pp. 111-112; February, 2000, Mary B. McCarthy, review of Indian School: Teaching the White Man's Way, p. 130; December, 2001, Ginny Gustin, review of Slave Spirituals and the Jubilee Singers, p. 156; February, 2003, Ginny Gustin, review of Remembering Manzanar, p. 156; September, 2004, Joyce Adam Burner, review of Dust to Eat, p. 224; August, 2005, Blair Christolon, review of Dust to Eat, p. 50; September, 2006, Michael Santangelo, review of Hero of the High Seas, p. 226.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1996, Laura L. Lent, review of Bound for the Promised Land, p. 52; February, 2002, review of Slave Spirituals and the JubileeSingers, p. 453; August, 2003, review of Remembering Manzanar, p. 187; October, 2004, Jenny Ingram, review of Dust to Eat, p. 323.
Michael L. Cooper Home Page,http://www.michaellcooper.com (July 15, 2007).