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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid Paperback – August 1, 2008


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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid + Red, White & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms + Black Skin, White Masks
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press (August 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896087832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896087835
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. Wilderson has a distinct, powerful voice and a strong story that shuffles between the indignities of Johannesburg life and his early years in Minneapolis, the precocious child of academics who barely tolerate his emerging political consciousness. Wilderson's observations about love within and across the color line and cultural divides are as provocative as his politics; despite some distracting digressions, this is a riveting memoir of apartheid's last days.
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From Booklist

Nelson Mandela calls Wilderson “a threat to national security.” Wilderson asks, Why does Mandela compromise? Radical, defiant, and searingly honest, this memoir about being active in the freedom struggle in the U.S. and in post-apartheid South Africa is bound to spark passionate argument as Wilderson weaves together his personal story with his politics, always critical of those in power. The only black kid in his suburban Minnesota school, he grows up hearing the n-word all the time. His parents beat him for refusing to pledge allegiance. A graduate of Dartmouth, on the faculty at Berkeley, he confronts the prejudice behind New Age facades. In Johannesburg in the 1980s and early 1990s, he joins the African National Congress. Occasionally, the account flags with too much detail on the author’s experiences in both countries, back and forth over time, but what holds you fast is his lack of reverence and self-importance; he is as candid about his attraction for white women as he is about his nostalgia for “a homeland that never was.” --Hazel Rochman

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Acey on August 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
A beautifully written memoir that takes you from late 60s Minnesota to late 80s "end of apartheid" South Africa, and then to the 00s in California's "progressive" Bay Area through the eyes of the exceedingly dynamic academic and activist Frank Wilderson III. Wilderson weaves a tale that explores hisinner torments, social struggles, family battles, and challenging relationships with amazing insight, biting political criticism, humor, poetry, and, above all, honesty. Inspired by Assata Shakur's memoirs, Wilderson's book is a poignant trek through the ongoing evolution of a post-60s era black radical and a modern-day visionary. Highly recommended!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Racism doesn't die a sudden death. It's a concept that's tough, vengeful, and bitter. "Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid" is a story of race and the shifting attitudes of two countries. Frank B. Wilderson has in his life lived in two countries notorious for its cruel treatment of some of its own citizens solely for the color of their skin - The United States and South Africa. Drawing his ideas and views, Wilderson constructs a very highly readable piece of work, that will enlighten as well as entertain. Written as a response to Nelson Mandela "Incognegro" is a pivotal piece of writing for those studying race in today's world.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Alexander-Crossan on October 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
Uhhh, buy the book, do it, now.

From being an intelligence operative in a network of anti-apartheid armed struggle in South Africa to reflections on middle school days forming a human sign of "OFF THE PIGS!!!" to the National Guard's invasion of Berkley to launching a sustained and insightful critique of the operation of white privilege/supremacy in the academy, Frank Wilderson has written a ridiculously fly memoir that I feel incredibly grateful to have gotten my hands on.

For your own sake, please, purchase this amazing piece of writing immediately.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Rabb on June 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
Frank Wilderson paints a picture of an American citizen that is often forgotten about either accidentally or intentionaly, because they represent a view that is taken as anathema to being "American". Wilderson explains how black anger, rage, and frustration as well as an attraction to communism of the Maoist or Leninist variety comes about. He is middle class, black, Ivy educated, and also unhappy, unfulfilled, angry, tired, and sceptical. His experience moved from a hatred of America to a hatred of South Africa and what they have become but he presents far more questions than answers about how this happens and why as well as how to possibly fix the problems associated on two sides of the ocean for blacks be they Americans or Africans; Pharoh for blacks may be on both sides of the sea. I recommend this book especially to the white conservative Christian reader and to the very liberal white reader that seeks to understand the black experience in America at home and abroad and the influence that global capitalism and political pragmatism and compromise can have on those that are marginalized in any society.
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