New Arrival

Inscribed to Black Civil Rights Attorney Len Holt

Simple's Uncle Sam.

New York: Hill and Wang, 1965.

Price: $3,000.00


About the item

First Edition; "First edition October 1965" stated on copyright page. 180 pp. 1 vols. 8vo. Inscribed to Black Civil Rights Attorney Len Holt. Tan cloth covered boards. In price clipped dust jacket with some rubbing around the edges, book near fine, some browning to title page from laid-in newspaper leaf. Holt's ownership stamp on same preliminary blank page as Hughes' inscription; small Holt inkstamp on lower edge. In custom clamshell box. Bruccoli & Clark, 167; Blockson 6382.

Item #368496

First edition of the final volume in Hughes' landmark series, an exceptional association copy inscribed to Black Civil Rights attorney Len Holt, who pioneered an activist legal defense of Freedom Riders and authored one of the first accounts of the Mississippi Civil Rights Project, winning high praise from Hughes in his December 3, 1965 New York Post column (clipping accompanying this copy). Hughes' bold inscription, in his trademark green ink, is dated the year of publication, "Happy Holidays to Len Holt, Sincerely Langston, Harlem, U.S.A., Christmas, 1965."

The nearly 50 stories in Simple's Uncle Sam – the last collection of Simple tales – moved critic J. Saunders Redding to declare "that with this volume Simple had taken his place among 'the great folk hero-gods in the American pantheon.' The episodes "burst with references to real people, creating a graceful blend of fiction and real footage... Indelible events such as the bombing deaths of four little girls in a Birmingham Sunday School, the lynching of Emmett Till, and the murder of Medgar Evers become salient references" (Harper, Simple's Last Moves, 202, xiv-xviii). Simple's Uncle Sam memorably ends "as did no other volume – with that signature phrase, that code word that evokes Hughes' dream: 'Dream on, dreamer, dream on.'"

The laid-in newspaper leaf, "Jingle Bells," is one of Hughes' final Simple columns. In it Hughes writes of "excellent books on the Freedom Movement, particularly Len Holt's The Summer That Didn't End, a most vivid great detail the types of assistance that lawyers stood ready to provide. Lawyers would defend Civil Rights workers after arrest, represent them at trial, and file affirmative constitutional challenges against segregation.... Holt's counsel to social movements in Atlanta and elsewhere constituted a crucial intervention" (Brown-Nagin, Courage to Dissent, 175-76).