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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (February 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068912192X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689121920
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,111,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The autobiography has been the most important literary genre in the African-American intellectual tradition," declares Franklin, who teaches history and political science at Drexel University. His treatment of works by 12 mostly prominent authors emphasizes historical importance over literary analysis. He offers contextual summaries of the work and roles of people like reformer Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who fought lynching, novelist James Weldon Johnson, who emphasized the worth of black folk traditions and novelist James Baldwin, whose confessional works presaged a new crop of intimate memoirs in the 1960s and '70s. Two chapters offer useful comparisons of novelists Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston, and poets Gwendolyn Brooks and Amiri Baraka. Franklin concludes, curiously, with a chapter on Adam Clayton Powell, whose 1941 election to Congress represented "an alternative model for black political activity." Not only is that model in question, but numerous important autobiographies have been published since Powell's 1971 Adam by Adam. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In ten profoundly provocative essays, historian Franklin examines the intellectual legacy of the autobiographies of 12 preeminent African Americans, from Alexander Crummell and Ida Wells Barnett to James Baldwin and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Revealing the writers' shifting ideological preoccupations, Franklin deftly probes the shape and substance of what he deems the most important literary genre in the African American intellectual tradition. His masterful exegesis adds to the understanding of the black heritage he offered in Black Self-Determination: A Cultural History of the Faith of the Fathers (L. Hill, 1984). It also provides an alluring framework for appreciating more fully such work on the genre as Bearing Witness: Selections from African American Autobiography in the Twentieth Century (Pantheon, 1991). Highly recommended for collections on black culture, literature, and history.
Thomas J. Davis, Univ. at Buffalo, N.Y.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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