Book jacket cover of Black FortunesI love history books that teach me about little known aspects of American history (little known to me, anyway!). Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires is just such a book.  Booklist: “The title of journalist Wills’ first book might raise expectations for a feel-good story in the rags-to-riches tradition, and, indeed, he explicitly positions his book as a corrective to cultural assumptions about black economic impoverishment by focusing on how once-enslaved African Americans amassed wealth between 1840 and the early 1920s. But their fascinating stories cannot be told without addressing the dire obstacles posed by slavery and white supremacy, making this a history, as well, of the complexity and injustice of American race relations. In this context, Wills argues that the ambitions and achievements of these intrepid individuals were radical acts. Emphasizing the diversity of the black American experience, he recounts the lives of six remarkable men and women from around the country, including chemist and hair-care innovator Annie Turnbo Malone and her megasuccessful employee Madame C. J. Walker, gold-rush millionaire Mary Ellen Pleasant, and Oklahoma teacher-turned-developer O.W. Gurley. Wills’ storytelling is infectious, his subjects are irresistible, and his broad coverage invites readers to venture further into the events and historical context he so vividly introduces.”