THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century ~Claire Prentice
“Claire Prentice is an award-winning journalist whose work has been published in the Washington Post, the London Times, the Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, BBC Online, Cosmopolitan, and Marie Claire.” (From the promotion materials of my uncorrected unproofed advance readers copy of this book)
The LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is about an historic event which occurred in 1904-1905. It is a true story and the author has done considerable research and study to share the story of this event in our history. It is about the journey of 51 members of the Igorrote tribes of the Philippines becoming one of the “Human Exhibits” with the freaks and curiosities at Coney Island’ Luna Park. Millions of people, MILLIONS came to see the village the Igorrote people built, the dancing, the singing, the dog-eating feasts and the nearly nude head-hunters in the exhibit. A great showman taught them to perform and entertain the public, so that the humans on the other side of the fence would throw coins and buy their trinkets and souvenirs. They came to the USA and were told they would be paid $15 a month, could keep their souvenir money, they would assist their families back home when they returned in a year.
Dr. Truman Hunt transformed himself from doctor in the Philippines to one of the greatest showman, marketing aficionados, and con-men of all time. His scheme and his sideshow troupe made Hunt a very rich man. He ended up on the run with the tribe because of his huge lifestyle, the pursuit of ex-wives, his alcohol consumption and the dogged agents of the American justice system. He hid the Igorrote in squalor and paraded them in other parks when he needed more funds. Hunt cheated them out of all their promised money and the US taxpayers finally had to foot the bill in order to get the tribe back home.
THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is well written and it makes history come alive revealing the true story behind the experience and it is quite entertaining. I know my history buffs will enjoy this storytelling adventure and relive the role of the amusement park heyday in our history. As a well told story full of historic detail, I would give it 5 stars.
As a reader, I thought it was a terrific tale compassionately told and I, personally, would have enjoyed it more if it had been just a magazine article length. It actually made me feel ill about the way these individuals were treated and that the pubic was so driven to observe the Igorrote people. I tried to think of the troupe as entertainers, educators and then Hunt’s people would stride into the scene and exploit their efforts time and time again cheating and enslaving these people. Of course, it doesn’t help that we are still stuck in this human trafficking mode as entertainment and abuse. I was reading this story as young unarmed men are being murdered in the streets and we worship guns and violence. As voters are being cajoled by lies and untrue stories and our President is being belittled and disrespected loudly – all for money. THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is a sordid reminder of how easily people can be controlled – and the con-artist wins. In this century, it appears to me that our behavior is worse. The entertainment needs to be bigger and more violent and our appetites grow. Who are the savage dog-eaters?
TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND for review. The book will be available for purchase on October 14, 2014. It would make quite the gift for your historic reader.
“At its heart, THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND is a story that makes us question who is civilized and who is savage.” (From the publicity pages in my uncorrected, unproofed advanced e-copy)
Tags: 1905, American justice system, amusement parks, Chicago, Claire Prentice, Coney Island, enslaving, entertainment, exploiting, Historic book, Igorrote Tribes, journalism, marketing, Money, Philippines, THE LOST TRIBE OF CONEY ISLAND, Truman K Hunt