Title: The Lost Tribe of Coney Island
Author: Claire Prentice
Publisher: New Harvest
Publish Date: October 14, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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."
My Two Cents:
"The Lost Tribe of Coney
Island" is a fascinating, non-fiction tale about Truman K. Hunt, a man
who has designs on making a name for himself during the early 1900s.
Hunt sees a great opportunity during his travels to the Philippines to
bring back some of the natives and put them on display in an amusement
park in Coney Island (seriously!). He promises these people a lot in
order to get them to go with him. Once they get to the United States,
all bets are off and Hunt realizes that he has a ton of power over them
and exploits them. To modern day readers, the idea of a "human zoo" is
grotesque but unfortunately during the time that this book takes place,
the practice was all too prevalent in our country.
tracks the plight of these people with great detail, which made for a
very engaging read. I found myself stunned by what the poor Filipinos
had to go through. First, they get to Coney Island and are forced to
build their own village display where they will live and essentially be
trapped while they are there! The particular tribe that Hunt brought
people from happened to have a couple habits that the amusement park
tourists found fascinating such as head hunting and dog eating. Hunt
made sure to cash in on these aspects even if it meant stretching the
truth a little bit (not a nice guy at all).
The writing of the
book was really good. It reminded me a lot of books such as Erik
Larson's "Devil in the White City" and Charlene Mires' "Capital of the
World," because like those two books, this book is thoroughly engaging
non-fiction that often felt like fiction! I had to keep reading parts
out loud to my husband just because some of the things that happen to
the Filipinos were so unbelievable! Overall, I definitely enjoyed this