Harlem supers: the social life of a community in transition

Williams, Terry. Harlem supers: the social life of a community in transition. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015 (c2016). 243p  ISBN 9781349562411 pbk, $34.99

Terry Williams, author of The Cocaine Kids, Crackhouse, and The Conmen, continues his work on urban life in this book on Harlem “supers”, (managers responsible for repair and maintenance in a residential building). The text is full of field notes from nine supers selected for different locations and personal characteristics. It is part memoir, Williams has been a super and an investor in buildings that employ supers. His story and the stories of the supers he interviews are intertwined. The book is very digressive and the narrative thread is easily lost. He asserts that supers are crucial actors in their communities, but he does not give the reader a clear idea about how this works. It compares to Doormen by Peter Bearman, but does not develop sociological theory as well. Williams mentions many sociological concepts, but does not adequately link these ideas to the supers. Advanced students can make the links, but younger students will not. There are few photos, no captions, and no map for reference to building and neighborhood locations. The book is suitable for advanced urban courses but not for work or occupations.
Readership Levels Upper-division Undergraduates, Graduate Students, Researchers/Faculty, Professionals/Practitioners

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