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September 22, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930 by Steven Watson (Pantheon: $16, 224 pp.). Watson's readable, lavishly illustrated history of the flowering of African American culture marks the debut of Pantheon's "Circles of the Twentieth Century" series. He divides the efflorescence into two phases: The literary movement of the early '20s associated with the "New Negro" and the later "Harlemania" that centered on jazz, speak-easies and a rawer vision of life.

Watson fleshes out his history with vivid portraits of talented artists and examples of period slang.

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