15 December 2014
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island, by Claire Prentice (New Harvest). In 1904, the United States government, eager to drum up public support for its occupation of the Philippines, brought thirteen hundred Filipinos to the St. Louis Exposition, where they were displayed in a living diorama. A year later, a feckless showman named Truman Hunt persuaded forty-nine members of the Bontoc Igorrote tribe to come to Coney Island, where they were billed as headhunting, dog-eating savages. In this well-researched account of the Igorrotes’ struggle to break free of Hunt and collect the money he owed them, Prentice cleverly balances the Igorrotes’ perspective with that of their “employer,” illuminating a moment in American history when imperialist ambitions, racism, and entertainment converged.

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