Author: Harry Knickerbocker
Year Published: 2023
“Nerdection Must Read”
Who’s afraid of the pharaoh is both a biography and a memoir written by Harry Knickerbocker and published in the year 2023. The text explores a world consumed by the Jim crow era.
Spoiler Free Plot:
Set in Wilmington, North Carolina 1968, Nicholas, a liberal Yankee, war veteran, news photographer, and painter navigates a world ravaged by Jim Crow, segregation, The Ku Klux Klan, poverty, racism, and violence.
He struggles to gain freedom (from Southern society, and the demons from the Vietnam war) and experience artistic expression. He finds himself stuck between expressing his true self artistically or following the mundane style of his art professor to enable him to graduate from art school. We also peer into the lives of two closeted gay men, a gay Episcopalian priest, and an oppressing art professor, the Black and white community of Wilmington, and the many ways the suppressive laws damage their lives, also not forgetting, the overbearing local famous mother-in-law of Nicholas who has brought nothing but more chaos into his life. He suspects that she has a hand in the burning of the church by the KKK, the church where he is meant to paint a mural in the basement for an experimental theatre which he has planned with Father Baron as a way to give local playwrights a place to stage their plays. Nicholas was really looking forward to that reality as it gave him a sense of accomplishment mixed with diversity, but that vision was cut short.
This free-thinking, liberal Yankee is somehow caught up right in the middle of all of the chaos ranging from the oppression of the KKK group, the oppressive, indecisive, stagnant closeted art professor, closeted gay Episcopalian priest, and his delusional and chaotic mother-in-law.
Will Nicholas be able to properly navigate his way through all the chaos by living up to everyone’s expectations or keep being a free-thinking liberal Yankee?
My Take on Who’s afraid of the pharaoh?
This book is a memoir of the time Harry Knickerbocker spent working as a news photographer in North Carolina between 1967 and 1971.
Society hasn’t changed since 1967, we are still fighting the same wars. Hatred, racism, and tribalism are still fuelled by an age-long fear and inferiority complex passed down from generation to generation, leaving us no better than our forebears. The oppressed and the oppressor are trapped in a never-ending vicious cycle of who is better, who deserves what, and who does not.
We also see religion as a potent tool of oppression and repression. The KKK boasts of being followers of Christ but went around killing and raping black people, burning churches, and doing everything to hinder the growth of the black community. The politicians profited from and fuelled the fires of hate as always.
Whatever our race, religious preference, gender, occupation, or financial status, we are in some way trapped into playing a role that fills us with guilt and anxiety. Like Father Baron who was afraid of being judged and rejected by his congregation and society because of his sexual orientation drinks to numb the pain, we too have given up any notion of personal freedom for acceptance.
“We look to the outward demands of a corrupt, dishonest, and self-serving authority for respect and a sense of purpose instead of looking within ourselves”
This book invites us to question our choices, it is filled with raw emotions and a shocking amount of vulnerability. It was very interesting seeing segregation and its damming effects through the eyes of a white person.
I would rate this book a 5/5 and I highly recommend it to anyone who desires a good read and something different from the norm.
About The Author Of Who’s afraid of the pharaoh?
Harry Knickerbocker Is a retired economics instructor. When he was a young man he served in Vietnam with the Marines. After his discharge in 1967, He worked as a news photographer in North Carolina, and he attended UINC-W as an art student. Harry was eventually kicked out of the department for being too argumentative with the director. In the early seventies he decided to go the way of the starving artist. He eventually returned to college in the early nineties and received an AA, an AS, a BA, and an MA in economics. He also bought a sailboat. When Harry wasn’t teaching economics he went sailing.He retired in 2006.