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Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir Paperback – October 15, 2010

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About the Author

Educator and philosopher Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University. Known as one of America’s most gifted, provocative, and important public intellectuals, he is the author of the contemporary classic Race Matters, which changed the course of America’s dialogue on race and justice, and the New York Times bestseller Democracy Matters. He is the recipient of the American Book Award and holds more than 20 honorary degrees.

Award-winning writer David Ritz is the co-author of the autobiographies of Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and B.B. King.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Smiley Books; 0002- edition (October 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401921906
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401921903
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #545,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and obtained his MA and PhD in philosophy at Princeton. He has taught at Union Theological Seminary (where he has recently returned to teach), Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Paris. He has written nineteen books and edited thirteen books. He is best known for his classic Race Matters, published by Beacon Press in 1993. His latest books are Black Prophetic Fire, which offers a fresh perspective on six revolutionary African American leaders (Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells) and The Radical King, a collection of MLK's writings curated and introduced by Prof. West to reclaim Dr. King's prophetic and radical vision as both a civil rights leader and--more broadly--as a human right activist. Both books were published by Beacon Press.

Cornel West appears frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, CNN and C-SPAN, and he makes numerous appearances speaking to audiences large and small on subjects ranging from racial justice and queer rights to climate justice. Prof. West has appeared in over twenty-five documentaries and films, including Examined Life, Call & Response, Sidewalk, and Stand. He has also made three spoken-word albums, including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and the late Gerald Levert. His recent spoken-word interludes were featured on Terence Blanchard's Choices (which won the Grand Prix in France for the best jazz album of the year for 2009).

He has recently been deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter protests and was among those arrested in Ferguson in 2015. Cornel West has a passion to communicate in writings and orations, through music and film, and in solidarity with groups and faith communities committed to justice in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.--a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Photo credit Sigrid Estrada.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By soulonice on October 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Those four words help me sum up someone I hold in extremely high regard. Dr. West's memoir has many lessons to be taken; self-discovery, education, community, and living for a purpose. It's amazing to see a person such as him struggle with portions of his being, which to me, only contributes to his importance, simply because you'll see pieces of yourself in this book. Even with those questions he has of himself, you'll see a degree of self-esteem and self-love, as well as love for others, that's simply remarkable.

There are parts in here that will make you laugh, such as the encounter he had with Amiri Baraka, or the time he took his folks to hear Eldridge Cleaver speak; he talks about his highly-publicized disagreements with Lawrence Summers in vivid detail. He even talks about his appearance, and why he chooses to wear his attire we've come to known him associated with: three-piece suit, tie, scarf, with the big 'ol afro. All of it brings a range of emotions, and it was a pleasure being exposed to them.

By his own admission, he is a bluesman, a man who loves hard, speaks truth, questions unapologetically, and a servant of the people. He truly, unequivocally loves all people. Music has shaped, and continues to shape and contribute to, his daily being. Most importantly, he remains a child of God, something he holds near and dear, and at the forefront of everything he does and all everything that he's about.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By B. Wolinsky on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Cornel West's books are approaching mediocrity. His earlier works were deep, philosophical, and serious. But his recent works are just collections of anecdotes that skim the important issues.

LIVING AND LOVING OUTLOUD is full of unnecessary name-dropping. I think it's great that Dr. West appreciates the works of other writers, but he doesn't go into any detail when he compares himself to Proust or Pound. He annoyingly compares himself to a "Bluesman" throughout the book, but it doesn't add anything but filler. He makes some references to the "Bluesmen" being downtrodden, always on the move, unloved, etc. But how is his life anything like that? He says his ex-wives have taken all his money, but how could he be "homeless" or "broke" when he gets $5000 for a lecture? He says he let his wife "Eleni" divorce him and sue him for all he's worth, but then he says "I let her." Now whose fault is that? This "Bluesman" comparison sounds more ike self-pity.

I'm giving this book two stars because there are some great topics here. He has a chapter on his childhood, his conflict with the Black Muslims, his fued with Lawrence Summers. But then he starts skimming; he gives a small anecdote about his relationship with a Turkish woman and their daughter, then a self-pitying story about her demands for child support. But he mentions that she and their daughter live in Germany, he flies over every six weeks, they have "long walks by the Rhine". I'd be interested in learning more about this; how does the life of a Black-American-Turk in Germany compare to how her life would be in the USA? Does she get treated differently at school in Germany because of her color? Does this tri-racial kid have any identity issues? How does Dr. West compare life in Germany to life in the USA?
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By P.D.B. on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir by the legendary Dr. Cornel West opened my eyes to the life of one of the people that I admire most in the field of higher education. West unapologetically laid his accomplishments, failures, joy, and pain out for the world to see in black and white. After reading about West's journey from a hot tempered youth to becoming one of the leading educators, writers, and lecturers in the American academy I was left feeling inspired and encouraged to follow my own "calling." The book was very motivational and I recommend it to anyone who is looking to read a story about what "could be" if you work hard enough for it .
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34 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Daniel W. Aldridge on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchase this book with great anticipation, but was literally stunned by the absence of serious thinking, the constant name dropping, the sharing of the names of female companions and lovers, the sharing of a life choices that can only be described as sad, and the incredibly poor editing. I have deep respect and love for Dr. West, but some of the things that he shares are hard to believe. We are asked to believe that a person who has made many millions of dollars from a speaking schedule that includes almost two hundred speeches a year at between $7,500 to $15,000 per speech and more, a salary from his tenured professorships at Harvard and Princeton, and teaching positions at other colleges and universities, financial awards, and major selling books has so little money that he can not afford a room and must sleep in "Central Park." As a person who was born and raised in Harlem and East Elmhurst, New York, I have a difficult time accepting that my millionaire brother can not afford a room, find a place to sleep on the Princeton campus or in that community or have a friend provide him with a place to lay his head. Why does the world need to know that he slept with Kathleen Battle or Michelle Wallace? Did they agree to have this information shared with the world? This is a sad and shallow book by an otherwise wonderful brother.
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