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Heresy In The University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibilities of American Intellectuals Kindle Edition

7 customer reviews

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Length: 304 pages

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Review

Heresy in the University is an exemplary act of adjudication-genuinely clarifying about matters that have so often been obscured by angry polemic; genuinely judicious in a way that only a very capacious, open-minded, and broad-ranging mind could manage; charming self-conscious about its own limits and yet quite passionate about its loyalties....An exemplary book. -- Bruce Robbins, coeditor of Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling Beyond the Nation and author of Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress

Berlinerblau's ability to integrate far-reaching serious scholarly and ethical issues within the substantive content of the Black Athena debate is impressive. -- Molly Myerowitz Levine, Howard University, coeditor of The Challenge of Black Athena

Product Details

  • File Size: 5276 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press (March 1, 1999)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 1999
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SATP8U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,480,414 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 91 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Berlinerblau wades into the Black Athena controversy and calls a lot of people to task. He summarizes the weighty work of Martin Bernal (who he apparently interviewed and commented on various parts of the book) and critiques both Black Athena and its critics. In short, Berlinerblau concludes: Martin Bernal proves that a lot of antiquity studies have had some serious biases, and his work has forced a lot of reassessment on the part of antquity scholars, but; the antiquity scholars prove that Bernal has made a lot of errors. Berlinerblau also calls some of Bernal's critics to task for the vehemence of their attack on Bernal, punishing him on facts while dismissing some larger points. As far as some of the big arguments (was Athena black, were Egyptians 'black', etc.) Berlinerblau explains the sources, arguments, problems (like projecting 19th century concepts of race back 3000 years) and concludes that the most extreme viewpoints (on either side of the argument) are probably not true, though many of Bernal's points quite possibly are, and that, barring some spectacular discoveries, we will probably never know for certain. Berlinerblau praises Bernal for engaging the public in his work, and feels that scholars should work more to became public intellectuals. One can tell that the author cares and wants to be understood, admitting his weaknesses and trying to be fair to all viewpoints.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Aristotle's Beast on March 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a good book. Berlinerblau has done a convincing job of being fair to all sides, and he does not appear to admire any of the people he writes about. This book says a lot about the way scholars look at one another these days, and the lessons he brings are useful in considering any number of entrenched disputes in the academy today. In the end, the book has a rather depressing message: moral zealots are in charge on both sides of so called 'ideological warfare' today, and neither side is prepared to doubt their right to lie. The book can be dry, but the kind of thing under discussion has no finer demonstration in any work I have read. Luckily, the topic, Bernal's BLACK ATHENA, is a very curious case, especially since Bernal is a white man. Some parts of this are engrossing.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Martin Bernal (now a Professor Emeritus of Government and Near Eastern Studies from Cornell University) wrote one of the more controversial books in the 1980s, Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Volume 1)), which suggested that the classical Greeks borrowed heavily from "Afroasiatic" cultures. Bernal's book has been very influential in the Afrocentrism movement, and has also been criticized (see Not Out Of Africa: How "Afrocentrism" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History (A New Republic book) and Afrocentrism: Mythical Pasts and Imagined Homes). Bernal himself has responded to many of the criticisms of his 3-volume book in Black Athena Writes Back: Martin Bernal Responds to His Critics.

Berlinerblau's book, however, was written in 1999, and has a considerable advantage in terms of PERSPECTIVE. Berlinerblau (associate professor and Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University) first makes a very helpful summary of the contents of Bernal's book, and divides his presentation into three sections: 1. The Historical Argument, 2. The Sociological Argument, and 3. "Black Athena and the Culture Wars."

Berlinerblau clarifies the record about Bernal about several issues (e.g.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith on August 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
Berlinerblau says he is attempting to summarise the Black Athena debate in one volume, providing a critical but accessible summary and interpretation of Black Athena, identifying its flaws and the main objections of its critics and questioning if modern universities can accept unorthodox views. Bernal spent many years in background reading before writing Black Athena; most specialists who reviewed it had long experience in their chosen fields: Berlinerblau published in an area that he was unfamiliar with only three years after Black Athena Revisited, so his expertise is questionable.

In his Introduction and Part One, Berlinerblau is generally sympathetic towards Bernal's theories, because he says Bernal challenges the practices and motivation of scholarly research. He puts many of Bernal's arguments in Black Athena Volume I (exposing past prejudice in classical studies) into simple English. He is less able to evaluate the evidence Bernal used attempting to rewrite early Mediterranean history in Volume II or the reaction to it. He dismisses the criticism of Bernal's theories in Black Athena Revisited, arguing that details are less important than its challenge to orthodoxy.

Berlinerblau neither presents both sides of the debate nor explains the critics' objections fully, possibly because he lacks experience of Classics, Archaeology or Ancient History. He accuses opponents of being hypercritical of Bernal, but an eminent professor should be subject to the normal process of criticism by peers, just as Berlinerblau criticises his sociological failings. Black Athena contains many accusations of anti-Semitism, racism, incompetence or malpractice: Berlinerblau thinks them legitimate, unless demonstrably preposterous, but they do not replace proof or reasoned argument.
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