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Publisher's Summary

Now a Netflix series starring Octavia Spencer, Self Made (formerly titled On Her Own Ground) is the first full-scale biography of “one of the great success stories of American history” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Madam C.J. Walker - the legendary African American entrepreneur and philanthropist - by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.

The daughter of slaves, Madam C.J. Walker was orphaned at seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. She spent the better part of the next two decades laboring as a washerwoman for $1.50 a week. Then - with the discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for Black women - everything changed. By her death in 1919, Walker managed to overcome astonishing odds: Building a storied beauty empire from the ground up that would be run by four generations of Walker women until its sale in 1985, amassing wealth unprecedented among Black women, and devoting her life to philanthropy and social activism. Along the way, she formed friendships with great 20th-century political figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. 

“A’Lelia Bundles always knew, on some level, that this story was hers to tell. And she tells it with a controlled passion and an integrity that would have made Madam Walker proud” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). “Well-paced and well-written...as much social history as biography, filled with the detail and texture of culture and politics” (The New York Times), Self Made is enriched by the author’s exclusive access to personal letters and records from the family collection. Bundles also showcases Walker’s complex relationship with her daughter, A’Lelia Walker, a celebrated hostess of the Harlem Renaissance and renowned friend to both Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston. 

“More than a history lesson in her rise to fame, On Her Own Ground offers inspiration to women - regardless of race - on how to succeed against all odds” (Chicago Sun-Times).

©2001 A'Lelia Bundles (P)2020 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Please read the book and not rely on the Netflix series

I have been well read on black history since I was a preteen and this is just one other book that I enjoy having in my library! And watching the Netflix series before purchasing this movie, I was dubious about some of the narrative that was portrayed in the movie and reading this book I learned that my concerns are well-founded. I appreciate the authors sincerity and her honesty about some of the misconception she grew up with about her great grandmother‘s legacy. I also enjoyed The countless letters of the time that she reference to really set the stage for Madame CJ Walker‘s life, her family, her place in society, and a truly innovative business that she created. As a native of Mississippi, I had no idea that Madame’s roots were very southern in those Mississippi and Louisiana for which I took a great deal of pride. For anyone that is as much of a history buff as myself, especially as it pertains to Black history, please read this book to see a more accurate portrayal of Madame CJ Walker‘s life; and not just watch the Netflix series and think that you know but her and her daughter A’Lelia’s legacy really means to Black America and to the world.

16 people found this helpful

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💣💣💥💥💥👏👏👏💪🏿💪🏿💪🏿🧠🧠🧠DAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When Napoleon Hill asked Andrew Carnegie how do you become Rich he said interview my friends like Thomas Edison, The Wright Brothers and Henry Ford etc Madam C.J Should have been next in line this human being is a hidden treasure a diamond 💎💎💎 in the rough this ranks in my top 10 of all times business , personal self development requirements. I loved the authors careful research attention to detail and reference to today's current struggles facing women in CEO positions and how little money is given through seed funding and the mention of netflix makes me feel like I walked with the author in the past and arrived in the future .
Time Less Classic .

5 people found this helpful

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I loved it!

I loved it! Author and reader A'Lelia Bundles is thorough in her writing. she paints a clear picture of CJ Walker's life and the racial environment in which Ms Walker lived. If you want information more specific to CJ Walker with less information about the racial climate, then I recommend the African Americans of Achievement book about her, also by A'Lelia Bundles. If you want to know as much as possible, then this is the book. Or just get both, my personal choice.

3 people found this helpful

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Well Written History.

I throughly enjoyed reading Bundles’s work. It is a must read for anyone interested in a scholarly, yet entertaining account of the life and times of Madam Walker. The author does her ancestor much justice in demonstrating her role as major player in early 20th century race leadership and uplift.

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DON'T WASTE YOUR $

I was excited to listen to this book after watching the series. Needless to say, I was highly disappointed. I found this book to be dry, and more like listening to a dramatized newscast.

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Narration ruined the story

The author/narrator's tone is so angry, every adjective is a rant. Returned for refund.

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Loved it!

I loved how in depth it went. We only learn about the top layer of Madam C. J. Walker's life but this book gives you more. I could see everything that she was saying. How could you not root for Madam C. J. Walker!

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disappointed in the story content .

I thought this book was going to be like the story of the wonderful movie but it wasn't it was more like a slave history lesson which I really don't need to know because I already know it. very disappointed in this book after I paid for it.

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Much better than the mini series.

Enjoyed listening to the history of a lesser known American or at least one that didn't show up in my history books as a child. Too bad the movie from this title didn't stay true to her life story which was way more interesting.

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Inspiring story

This story was so rich with history, not only about Madam CJ Walker's inspirational entrepreneurial journey but of woman empowerment, philanthropy and service to the black community as a whole with emphasis on social, political and educational advancement. "Self Made" paints the picture of what America looked like in the early 1900s as we walk through black American culture and discusses the truth behind what I once assumed was a deeply rooted obsession with European appearances due to lack of self love or self acceptance.

I also appreciated the personal connection author A'Leila has as she is a descendent of Madam Walker. Her decision to narrate was a welcome surprise! Definitely a must read or listen!!!