Join Us at The Black Bookshelf Book Club!History Search
History Search
Black books on-line.
Home || Search || Community || Free Magazines || Links || Contact Us



"W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963"
by David Levering Lewis
A pioneering sociologist, educator, essayist, activist, and political theorist, W.E.B. Du Bois was one of America's great intellectuals. This second volume by David Levering Lewis picks up where his Pulitzer Prize-winning "W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race" left off, chronicling his life from 1919 until his death in Ghana in 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington. "In the course of his long, turbulent career," Lewis writes, "W.E.B. Du Bois attempted virtually every possible solution to the problem of twentieth-century racism--scholarship, propaganda, integration, cultural and economic separatism, politics, international communism, expatriation, third world solidarity."

Lewis's lean and lyrical writing rescues Du Bois's stuffy, Afro-Victorian speech from historical documents, breathing life into his letters, memos, and numerous articles, both published and unpublished. He takes us through Du Bois's battles with the NAACP (which he cofounded); his ideological wars with "Back to Africa" nationalist Marcus Garvey; his many Pan-African conferences; and his tours of Africa, Japan, Russia, and China. He probes deeply into many of Du Bois's books, including "Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil" and "Black Reconstruction,"adding marvelous new insights into the neglected novel "Dark Princess." Lewis also details Du Bois's relationships with friends and foes alike, including James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Alain Locke, as well as his triumphs, such as his acquittal in the infamous trial in which he was accused of being an "unregistered foreign agent," and his defeats, notably his failure to publish his Encyclopedia Africana.

A foremost authority on this great man, Lewis summarizes Du Bois as having "an extraordinary mind of color in a racialized century ... possessed of a principled impatience with what he saw as the egregious failings of American democracy that drove him, decade by decade, to the paradox of defending totalitarianism in the service of a global idea of economic and social justice." A reading of this magnificent work is nothing less than a reading of modern black America. Read more

Our Price: $28.00 | You Save: $7.00 (20%)   

return to top

"Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America"
by John McWhorter
For the past two decades, an academic cottage industry has developed to analyze--and some would say overemphasize--the social and educational problems of African Americans. Such writers as Dinesh D'Souza, Shelby Steele, Armstrong Williams, and Ken Hamblin have all contributed in this area; now add to that list John McWhorter, a Berkeley linguistics professor and the author of "Word on the Street," an examination of Ebonics and Black English. The basic idea he presents in this occasionally insightful if flawed book is that African Americans are not advancing socially as a result of victimology, separatism, and anti-intellectualism.

According to the author, victimology "has become a keystone of cultural blackness to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured," while "separatism encourages black Americans to conceive of black people as an unofficial sovereign entity, within which the rules other Americans are expected to follow are suspended out of a belief that our victimhood renders us morally exempt from them." Anti-intellectualism is a belief that "school is a 'white' endeavor." McWhorter suggests that only blacks embrace such opinions, placing most of the blame on them while underemphasizing the institutional racism that facilitates such views. Needless to say, McWhorter has no love for the likes of Al Sharpton, Hazel Carby, June Jordan, or Patricia Williams and their ilk. His chapter on Ebonics, his specialty, is the most nuanced, though certainly not the final word on the matter. And though some readers will be turned off by his use of tired anti-affirmative-action, right-wing clichés, anyone interested in the education of African Americans in the post civil rights era will find "Losing the Race" a worthy read. Read more

Our Price: $19.20 | You Save: $4.80 (20%)   

return to top

"God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man: A Saltwater Geechee Talks About Life on Sapelo Island"
by Cornelia Walker Bailey
It has been said that the Africans who were brought to the United States as slaves were completely stripped of their native culture. But pioneering scholars such as anthropologist Melville Herskovits have disproved this in academia, while the literature of Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison has also debunked this persistent myth. Living proof of that fact is Sapelo Island, a South Sea island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, where West African traditions persist despite considerable odds. This vivid memoir by Cornelia Walker Bailey, a lecturer and tour guide on Sapelo Island, transports the reader to this enchanted land of miracles and magic.

Walker is a self-described "Geechee," a descendant of Islamic African slaves taken from modern-day Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Liberia (she traces her family lineage on the island back to 1803). In "God, Dr. Buzzard, and the Bolito Man," the author brings alive a land where black people speak an African-based Creole language, believe in "mojo" (the American equivalent of Haitian voodoo), and work to keep their culture alive. "You can think of the Africans as being victims, and in a sense they were," she writes. "But they were also great survivors. If they survived the Middle Passage, and a lot of people didn't, then they survived everything thrown at them. They were determined people." Thanks in large part to Bailey, this determination lives on. But her book, which recalls life on Sapelo Island from the 1940s and rings with the same ebullient language found in Jean Toomer's "Cane," also serves as a warning, noting that outside business interests and the disinterest of the youth threaten the very existence of their ancient ways. "We need to be proud of our ancestors from slavery days and of our old people who went through modern hardships and to learn from them that if you believe in something, strength comes from that." With this book, she hopes to pass some of that strength on. Read more

Our Price: $19.16 | You Save: $4.79 (20%)   

return to top

"King: A Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr."
by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman
The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement is well documented in prose, but for sheer emotional power, nothing can compare to the pictures from this era. It's a challenge for a writer's words to match the force of Bob Adelman's photographs in this book, but novelist and essayist Charles Johnson rises to the task in his treatment of King's life and death, as well as the heroic struggle of African Americans in the United States. Johnson, the author of "Middle Passage" (which won the 1990 National Book Award), offers an exceptional counterpoint to the stirring images with the depth and weight of his essays and captions. "How soon we forget that King was not only a civil rights activist," Johnson writes, "but also this country's preeminent moral philosopher, a spiritual aspirant, a father and a husband, and that these diverse roles--these multiple dimensions of his too brief life--were the foundations for his singular 'dream' that inspired millions worldwide."

Adelman intimately captures King's background, from his comfortable middle-class upbringing in Atlanta to the dashing figure he cut with his wife, Coretta, to his steady ascendance as a forceful preacher thrust into prominence during the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56. We cringe at the sight of King being photographed as a criminal and at the horrific treatment many blacks endured by racist Southern police. The triumph of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, which he gave at the 1963 March on Washington, is beautifully detailed, along with his acceptance of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. We also see a weary King, weighed down by assassination attempts, harassment, inner-city riots, and the Vietnam War. Toward the end, King displays an eerie sense of calm in the photos taken just days before his death--particularly in an April 3 photo taken at the Mason Hall in Memphis the night before his murder, where he declared that he'd "been to the mountaintop." King's legacy is lovingly chronicled in this impressive book. Read more

Our Price: $32.00 | You Save: $8.00 (20%)   

return to top

cover Autobiography of a People : Three...

About the Author
Herb Boyd is the coeditor with Robert Allen of Brotherman--The Odyssey of Black Men in America...

Read more about this book...

cover Africana : The Encyclopedia of the...
Legendary scholar-activist W.E.B. Du Bois labored to complete an "Encyclopedia Africana" before his death in 1963. Just over 35 years later, two Harvard educators, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Ghanaian-born Kwame Anthony Appiah, have brought Du Bois' intellectual dream to life in Africana,

Click here for other related books

"Infants of the Spring" by Wallace Thurman

This little-known classic of the Harlem Renaissance by the mysterious, Utah-born bisexual Wallace Thurman, who died inobscurity in 1934, is both timeless and timely. It centerson the larger-than-life denizens of a Harlem mansion called "Niggeratti Manor": Stephen Jorgensen, the recently arrivedCanadian; Paul, the ambivalent, uptown social critic;Pelham, the struggling poet; Eustace Savoy, an entertainerdisdainful of his Afro-American musical heritage. In this volatile gumbo of complex characters--which also pokes funat a few famous writers, including Zora Neale Hurston, AlainLocke, and Langston Hughes--Thurman weaves a hilarious storythat critiques the paternalistic Negro author/white patronrelationship, uncovers the social-class antagonisms in theAfro-American community, and foreshadows the sexual andsocial themes of James Baldwin and E. Lynn Harris. Thurman'selegant and elastic prose adds more illumination to this bright period in African American literature.

"The Crisis Reader" edited by Sondra Kathryn Wilson

When the towering African American intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909, he also launched a magazine as a literary extension of the organization. The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races was first published in 1910, articulating the social, political, and economic concerns of blacks on a national and international scale--and showcasing many Afro-American writers, playwrights, andintellectuals who later became household names. This collection--drawn mostly from material published in the 1920's--contains the race-examining fiction of Charles Chestnutt and Jessie Fauset; an early personal essay on racial relations from sociologist E. Franklin Frazier; Du Bois and philosopher Alain Locke's critique, "The Younger Negro Movement"; and "The Work of a Mob," by activist WalterWhite, whose ability to pass for "white" enabled him to deliver chilling eyewitness accounts of lynching. As its editor, Sondra Kathryn Wilson, writes, "This rich collection ... written during some of the most egregiously racist times in American history, will be an affirmationthat black American literature has long been the most sophisticated in the world."


"Walking on Water" by Randall Kenan

This delicious and diverse sampler of African American lifeculled from over 200 interviews by author Randall Kenanshows that the American idea of "blackness" is as vast asthe United States itself and cannot be pinned down tosimplistic sociological cliches. "More than a book ofanalysis," Kenan writes, "this is my book of soul searching.I am asking who we are." Crisscrossing North America, he visits some familiar settings--Oakland, New Orleans, and NewYork--and some unusual places (including Bangor, Maine, and Maidstone, Saskatchewan) to discover how everyday black folks deal with issues of race, identity, and nationality. From a black minister in Mormon Utah to a female judge in skinhead country to the state of blacks in the would-be-utopia of Seattle, Kenan paints a revealing portrait of a people whose presence and perseverance may forge a better America in the 21st century.

"The Color of Our Future" by Farai Chideya

In her penetrating crosscountry tour of the United States, gifted media star-on-the-rise and cultural critic Farai Chideya reveals how America's young people aredeconstructing the white/black definition of race and constructing a new pluralistic paradigm that encompasses thecountry's white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and native peoples.Chideya shows us the trials and triumphs of several young adults who dare to brave the new multicultural world, including Earl, a New York City-born, Spanish-speaking, Chinese/Panamanian/African American college sophomore; Nicole, a biracial 15-year-old Californian; Jaime and Bubba,a persecuted interracial couple in the Deep South whose deaddaughter was disinterred from an all-white cemetery because of her bloodlines; Beth, a Washington State blueblood and member of a skinhead organization; and B.J., a high school "wigger"--a white person who adopts black hip-hop culture (hence the derivation from the hated "n" word). Chideya also scrutinizes affirmative action, mixed-race censuscategories, and bilingual education with wisdom and accuracybeyond her years. "We do not obey the laws of race. We makethem," she writes. "Now is the time for us to chose wiselywhat we will preserve about our racial and cultural history,and what destructive divisions we need to leave behind.""Black Genius" edited by

Walter Mosley, Manthia Diawara, and Clyde Davis

These essays are taken from a symposium held in New YorkUniversity's Africana Studies Program, whose participantsincluded gifted writers and thinkers from the upper echelonof Afro-American achievement. The organizer, novelist WalterMosley, writes, "The intent of Black Genius was to assemblea group of black intellectuals, artists, politicalactivists, economists who have broken the visor and seenbeyond the fallacies of race.... We wanted to present thestories of women and men who had made it in spite of thesystem." Farai Chideya delivers an on-point analysis of themedia's misrepresentation of blacks and offers a blueprintfor more upfront and behind-the-scenes representation in the newsroom. Critic Stanley Crouch body-slams the negroidalnihilism and black "gansta" mentality in rap music, whileAngela Davis delivers a nightmarish assessment of thegrowing African American prison population. Others--including Julianne Malveaux, Randall Robinson, Spike Lee, and Anna Deavere Smith--take aim at health, the film industry, Wall Street, and the state of African-descendant people around the world.--Eugene Holley Jr. reviews books on black studies His work has also appeared in several magazines, including Downbeat and Hispanic.

"The Wretched of the Earth" by Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon (1925-61) was a Martinique-born black psychiatrist and anticolonialist intellectual; "The Wretched of the Earth" is considered by many to be one of the canonical books on the worldwide black liberation struggles of the 1960s. Within a Marxist framework, using a cutting and nonsentimental writing style, Fanon draws upon his horrific experiences working in Algeria during its war of independence against France. He addresses the role of violence in decolonization and the challenges of political organization and the class collisions and questions of cultural hegemony in the creation and maintenance of a new country's national consciousness. As Fanon eloquently writes, "[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps." Although socialism has seemingly collapsed in the years since Fanon's work was first published, there is much in his look into the political, racial, and social psyche of the ever-emerging Third World that still rings true at the cusp of a new century. "Negro: An Anthology" by Nancy Cunard

The story behind "Negro: An Anthology" is as legendary as its contents. In the late 1920s, Nancy Cunard, socially conscious, British, white, upper-class nonconformist and heir to the famed Cunard Shipping Line, married a black man and single-handedly put out 100 copies of a groundbreaking anthology. The work contained essays, poetry, short stories, and political propaganda from the era's finest Afro-American writers, along with valuable contributions by several white writers, including William Carlos Williams, Samuel Beckett, and Theodore Dreiser. In this invaluable reprint, we can see how broadly Cunard's interest in the "Negro question" ran. In chapters dealing with slavery, history, education, and the arts--as well as Latin America, Europe, and Africa-- Cunard includes the poetry of Langston Hughes and Sterling Brown; Zora Neale Hurston's anthropological study of the "Characteristics of Negro Expressions"; James Ford's legendary "Communism and the Negro"; and glimpses into the conditions and folk customs of blacks in Trinidad, Barbados, Cuba, Brazil, Uruguay, Paris, and West Africa. The most poignant writing, however, is her own account of the infamous case of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of innocent blacks falsely accused of raping two white women, which resulted in their near-execution. Although much of the communist-friendly content of "Negro" may seem naive by today's standards, the collection still stands as one of the most unique and esoteric compendiums of 20th-century Afro- American literature. "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima

This controversial book by Ivan Van Sertima, the Guyanese historian, linguist, and anthropologist, claims that Africans had been to the New World centuries before Columbus arrived there in 1492. Citing--among other things--the huge Negroid-looking Olmec heads of Central Mexico and the similarities between the Aztec and Egyptian calendars and pyramid structures, Van Sertima pieces together a hidden history of pre-Columbian contact between Africans and Native Americans. He also puts forth the possibility that Columbus may have already known about a route to the Americas from his years in Africa as a trader in Guinea. The ideas in this book have been debated and discussed since its first publication in 1976; even those who choose not to believe Van Sertima's theories should take his argument seriously. "My Mind Set on Freedom" by John A. Salmond

Trying to tell a richly detailed version of the turbulent and triumphant history of the civil rights movement in under 200 pages is a risky thing, but John A. Salmond, a professor of American history at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, has produced a text that speaks equally to the college student and educator. Citing the origins of the civil rights movement in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies of the 1930s, Salmond highlights the sit- ins, political organizations, riots, and the often brutal response of the United States government. He chronicles both the well-known and anonymous players on the stage of Afro- American liberation, from the role of civil rights lawyers Charles H. Houston and future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the historic Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas, that ended official segregation in America, to the act of defiance by Rosa Parks that led to the Montgomery bus boycott and brought Martin Luther King Jr. to prominence, as well as the assassinations of King and black nationalist leader Malcolm X. With clear prose refreshingly free of racial and social cliches, Salmond correctly states that, contrary to those who saw the civil rights movement as an agitation spurred on by outside forces, "the civil rights revolution had its roots deep in the American experience, in the egalitarian notions of Thomas Jefferson [and] the Emancipation Proclamation.... It is a mistake to think that Southern blacks meekly accepted the imposition of a caste system. They fought against it from the beginning." "The House That Race Built" edited by Wahneema Lubiano

This wide-ranging collection of essays by 15 scholars illustrates that there are many African American readings and responses to race. In "Home," Nobel laureate Toni Morrison muses on her uses of African American speech and the question of "how to be free and situated; how to convert a racist house into a race specific yet nonracist house." Harvard professor Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham's "Rethinking Vernacular Culture" details the affirmative role of Afro- American religion and blues-oriented race records of the 1920s and 1930s. Williams College's David Lionel Smith, in "What Is Black Culture?", gives a well-nuanced critique of the contradictory and limiting definitions of "blackness," while activist-educator Angela Y. Davis's "Race and Criminality" shows how blacks have become a racially criminalized commodity in America's rapidly expanding prison industry. "The House That Race Built" is a strong, intelligent weapon against racism.

Browse other Biographies & Memoirs, History, Science & Nature titles.


African Americans
Blacks In The U.S.
Social Science
African American Studies - History
United States - General
People of Color
Biography & Autobiography

return to top

Search for any book, CD, or video:
Compare Prices:

Looking for Black History Information? Use the search engine below to search Encarta Encyclopedia! Or Visit Black Facts On-line!

      in Encarta Concise Encyclopedia

Try AOL FREE!  250 Hours

AfroAmerican Web Ring
This site is owned by
| Skip Next | Skip Previous | Previous |
| Next Site | Next 5 Sites | Random Site |
Want to join the AAWR? Then click here for info.

Your link or banner ad on The Black Bookshelf? Click here for info.

Send mail to with questions or comments.

1998-2002 © The Black Bookshelf