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