Three very different new books are intriguing reads for Black History Month.
Becoming American: The African-American Journey (Sterling) by Howard Dodson is a historian's clear synthesis of African-American history and global history, with useful, detailed time lines as well as fascinating documents.
I Heard God Talking to Me: William Edmondson and His Stone Carvings (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by Elizabeth Spires is a beautiful book pairing Spires' poems with photos of the self-taught sculptor who became the first black artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art.
In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (Crown) by Henry Louis Gates Jr. collects remarkable discoveries, thanks to DNA tests and historical research, about the family backgrounds of such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Chris Rock, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Morgan Freeman.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor