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Deals With the Devil: And Other Reasons to Riot Paperback – July, 1994

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cleage, a columnist for the Atlanta Tribune , editor of Catalyst magazine and director of a theater company, offers approximately 40 pointed, colloquial and lively essays rising from an anger that is both feminist and black nationalist. An "outsider by choice as well as historical imperative," Cleage gets nervous when Bill Clinton makes her feel included and argues that America's integrationist dream is a "perverse fantasy" for blacks. Though she attacks Clarence Thomas as "an enemy of our race," she refuses to honor Anita Hill, arguing that Hill's service to the Reagan administration marked her as a "collaborator." Cleage is most forceful when she writes about race and sex. She can no longer celebrate Miles Davis when she learns he beats women, but her arguments that blacks are always right in interracial discussions of race and that "conscious" women are always right in discussions about sexism are certainly debatable. Other topics include Malcolm X, the film Driving Miss Daisy and Cleage's reflections on love, marriage and friends. A worthy voice.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This no-holds-barred, no-words-minced collection gathers essays and performance pieces written and delivered since 1987 by Cleage, an Atlanta writer ( The Brass Bed and Other Stories , LJ 5/15/91), performance artist, and playwright. Since she is a "third-generation Black Nationalist" writing "to help herself understand the full effects of being black and female in a culture that is both racist and sexist," there is no garden club, country club, or investment club talk. There is, however, "Basic Training" talk: women--and men--are told the sexist and racist facts of life. A significant part of Cleage's focus is upon the pervasiveness in American society of violence against women. In no uncertain terms. she expounds upon the differences between a hero and a "shero." Cleage's comments on Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, Spike Lee, Malcolm X, pornography, and the U.S. Supreme Court make for stimulating reading. Her voice needs and deserves to be heard: all libraries should ensure that that happens.
- Katherine Dahl, Western Illinois Univ., Macomb
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 207 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (P); Reprint edition (July 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345388712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345388711
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,598,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By MarvelousMarla VINE VOICE on August 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This collection of essays from Pearl Cleage, Black nationalist, feminist (actually a womanist) and artist gives her views on sexism, domestic abuse and racism. These essays were written in the early 90's and delve into controversies as diverse as the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Miles Davis' brutality to women, the flap over Luther Campbell's raunchy lyrics and the fuss over Spike Lee's films. Lee came under fire from scared White folks who feared (unnecesarily)that "Do the Right Thing," would incite violence and angry Black activists who worried that "X" would be a disservice to Malcolm's legacy. Cleage gives her own take on these events and many others that I won't attempt to list here. She lets no one off the hook and challenges us all to think critically instead following the herd.
I was a little put off by the first few essays in this collection because the author comes off as overwrought in the discussions about sexism, but the more I read with an objective eye I began to get upset myself. If it is true as she says that five women are murdered each day by men who claim to love them -- then why aren't more people discussing this? Domestic abuse certainly affects Black women across all socieconomic strata, yet you rarely hear Black leaders discussing it. Where is the outrage and condemnation? Where are Jesse, Johnnie, Al and all the other perennial frontmen for issues of race and racism? I am ashamed to admit that I never really gave much thought to sexism and domestic abuse, and this book was a real eye-opener.
"Mad at Miles," asks why so many people continued to support an artist who admitted to being abusive to his wife and was rumored to have beaten other women also.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Hart on April 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this collection of essays, Pearl Cleage seems to speak my thoughts -- all of the things that I think about but am afraid to say for fear of being labeled as a traitor to my race. And she says these things in an easily readible down to earth tone. Cleage takes a brave stand - calling out the inequities that come from being a member of an oppressed sex within an oppressed race. This book is one of several that essentially changed my life, letting me know that the notion that gender struggles must take a backseat to racial struggles is not only misguided but dangerous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
Cleage is an unsung master of the essay. She writes about issues that affect African Americans that are on eveybody's lips but also about things that do not come up as often. I would certainly recommend this book to any man or woman who wants to thinks critically about gender and how it plays itself out in the African American community. Cleage writes about people you know and celebrates them when they are beautiful as tell it like it is when they are wrong. "Deals With the Devil" is an excellent choice for book clubs because it lends itself easily to discussion and debate. In short, READ this book, then pass it on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tayari Jones on February 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
Cleage is an unsung master of the essay. She writes about issues that affect African Americans that are on eveybody's lips but also about things that do not come up as often. I would certainly recommend this book to any man or woman who wants to thinks critically about gender and how it plays itself out in the African American community. Cleage writes about people you know and celebrates them when they are beautiful as tell it like it is when they are wrong. "Deals With the Devil" is an excellent choice for book clubs because it lends itself easily to discussion and debate. In short, READ this book, then pass it on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paula White on June 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. I happened to see this book in a bookstore when I was married to an abusive man. Eventually I divorced this man after thirteen years, but I remembered how strong my intuition was when I first laid eyes on this book. I received domestic violence counseling and I finally read the book this month. If I had read it when I was married, I would have gotten a divorce sooner. Many thanks to Pearl Cleage for writing it.
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