We gave it a B+
Strivers Row, the final book in Kevin Baker’s City of Fire trilogy, documents two men in Harlem at the height of WWII and Jim Crow laws. Teenage Malcolm Little scrapped his way out of foster care in Lansing, Mich., hoping to refashion himself in upper Manhattan’s hopping clubs (and later becomes Malcolm X); Rev. Jonah Dove struggles to forge his own identity as he inherits his preacher father’s parish. As he did in Paradise Alley and Dreamland, Baker skillfully roots his dense, ambitious, at times transcendent story with meticulous research and brings to vibrant life a notable chapter in New York City history.