Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph, or a few, of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Today I am spotlighting The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century by Claire Prentiss
Readers of Erik Larson will love this tale of sex, greed, and the American dream: A huckster imports a tribe of Filipinos to Coney Island’s Luna Park, and two cultures collide.
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island unearths the forgotten story of the Igorrotes, a group of “headhunting, dog-eating savages” from the Philippines, who were transported to New York in 1905 to appear as “human exhibits” alongside the freaks and curiosities at Coney Island’s Luna Park. Millions of fair-goers delighted in their tribal dances and rituals, near-nudity, tattoos, and stories of headhunting.
Journalist Claire Prentice, who has spent years researching the topic, brings the story to life with her fluid prose and vivid descriptions. The book boasts a colorful cast of characters, including the disgraced lieutenant turned huckster Truman K. Hunt; his Filipino interpreter, Julio Balinag; the theme park impresarios behind Luna Park, Fred Thompson and Elmer “Skip” Dundy; and Dogmena, a beautiful girl who became a favorite with New York’s social elite. The Lost Tribe of Coney Island is a fascinating social history and a tale of adventure, culture-clash, and the American dream.
It was late in the evening when Dr. Truman Knight Hunt wrote the final name in the ledger. His body felt stiff as he eased himself out of his chair and stepped outside into the town — if a ramshackle collection of small, squat huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs could be called a town. There were not roads. In the distance he could make out the tribes rice terraces, which clung precariously to the surrounding mountainsides. Truman breathed in the night air. He felt as if he had met every Igarrote tribesman, woman, and child in the Phillipine Islands that day. A hopeful crowd was still waiting to be seen, little flickers of red glowing in the fading light as sucked on their pipes, sending puffs of smoke into the still air. Children had dozed off in their parents’ arms. A mangy-looking dog looked up and growled at the American stranger in a false show of strength. Truman picked up a stone and hurled it at the dog, which ran to take shelter behind a group of boys.
The tribe prided themselves on the fact they were largely self-sufficient in their native environment. They were strong headhunters, free to roam as they pleased and physically fit and active.
(These quotes are from uncorrected advance proofs. Please refer to the final printed book for corrected quotes!)
So...what do you think? Is this one you would pick up? Leave a comment below!