bakerAt first, this looked like your typical entertainment biography – Josephine Baker is a Dancer, Singer, Activist – and wait, what? a SPY?  So of course I had to read this book to find out more about Josephine!  The book starts with a note from the author saying that it is hard to track down Josephine’s life story. Mainly because of Josephine herself – who destroyed all pieces of her life from before she was 19 years old – which is when she left the United States for France.  As an adult, when she talked about her early life, she embellished things a bit.

Josephine wanted to be a star and she started at 13-years-old boarding a train for Memphis – and never turned back. As a child she risked having her leg amputated after stepping on a rusty nail. She begged the doctor to not cut it off – not wanting to think about being unable to walk or dance again and the doctor was able to save her leg. At 7, her mother told her she needed to find a job to support the family.

The book continues to chronicle the different performances that Josephine was in.  Of course, I just want to know about this spy business.  Oh, also interesting? She rescued a monkey from a pet store in Rio De Janiero!

During WWII is when Josephine did her work as a spy. I don’t want to give too much away (because you’re supposed to want to read the books I post about, of course) but it was very interesting how they delivered the secret information!   Josephine certainly led a fascinating life and it’s all here in this book – and since it is a children’s book it is a pretty quick read!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.


About the Book

A complete biographical look at the complex life of a world-famous entertainer


With determination and audacity, Josephine Baker turned her comic and musical abilities into becoming a worldwide icon of the Jazz Age. The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy provides the first in-depth portrait of this remarkable woman for young adults. Author Peggy Caravantes follows Baker’s life from her childhood in the depths of poverty to her comedic rise in vaudeville and fame in Europe. This lively biography covers her outspoken participation in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, espionage work for the French Resistance during World War II, and adoption of 12 children—her “rainbow tribe.” Also included are informative sidebars on relevant topics such as the 1917 East St. Louis riot, Pullman railway porters, the Charleston, and more. The lush photographs, appendix updating readers on the lives of the rainbow tribe, source notes, and bibliography make this is a must-have resource for any student, Baker fan, or history buff.

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