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Not Out Of Africa: How "Afrocentrism" Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History (New Republic Book) Paperback – July 10, 1997

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Product Details

  • Series: New Republic Book
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (July 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046509838X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465098385
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Wellesley classics professor Mary Lefkowitz takes aim at the basic claims of leading proponents of Afro-centrism, in this expansion of her New Republic article exposing flaws in the argument that black Africans were responsible for the great civilizations of Egypt and Greece that brought praise from historians and criticism from Afrocentrists. Lefkowitz argues that the Greeks' African heritage touted by Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop is based upon a single dubious source and that Egyptians never considered themselves black Africans, in fact, that they consciously disassociated themselves from blacks. She argues that the legacy of these two cultures remains so rich even foes of European civilization want to claim that legacy for themselves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"I am defending academic standards," declares Wellesley College classics professor Lefkowitz, expanding on a New Republic article that brought her praise from historians and criticism from Afro-centrists. Her methodical study, moderate in tone, does not survey the full flower of Afro-centrism in American curricula but takes potent aim at some of the basic claims of leading proponents of Afro-centrism. For example, she shows that influential Senegalese scholar Cheikh Anta Diop asserted the Greeks' African heritage based on a single, highly dubious source. Similarly, she explains how claims tracing Greek religion and philosophy to Egyptian origins are based on clearly suspect Greek sources. Moreover, she shows how those Afro-centrists who say the Greeks borrowed an "Egyptian Mystery System" from Africa are actually relying on an 18th-century French novel. This book is a sobering rebuttal of those academics too spineless to challenge teachings based more on identity politics than on solid scholarship.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

159 of 178 people found the following review helpful By C. Freeman on March 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alright, I'll admit up front, it wasn't easy reading Lefkowitz' book, especially after having read both volumes of J.A. Rogers 'World's Great Men Of Color' as a teenager (I'm 46 now) and finding both those books fascinating. It wasn't easy having one's firmly established beliefs methodically deconstructed after having lived with them for more than 30 years. Being human, part of me WANTED to believe the claims laid down in Rogers books, but I've come to realize that the danger for self-deception is proportionate to the need to believe in what one is defending AT ALL COSTS. Such an attitude only blinds a person to perceiving what is true by burying it under layers of preconceived ideas and opinions, ideas and opinions often fueled by emotions, and must therefore distort what is read. The result is often a gross misunderstanding of what the person is saying, or worse yet, completely ignoring what is being said.

After having read Lefkowitz' book with an open mind I found her arguments too persuasive to ignore, her proof too irrefutable to brush off. Anyone without an axe to grind can see that this woman CLEARLY knows what she's talking about. All of her assertions are backed up by evidence that can't be swept aside. And yes, as uncomfortable as it was this African-American was willing to make the sacrifice of walking away from his 'cherished beliefs'.

BTW, for those who criticize Lefkowitz of 'being racist' all I can say is, man how childish. Just because someone disagrees with or says something you don't like DOESN'T MAKE THEM A RACIST. PERIOD. END OF STORY.
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310 of 353 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on December 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In the fall of 1991 I was asked to write a review-article for The New Republic about Martin Bernal's Black Athena and its relation
to the Afrocentrist movement. The assignment literally changed my life. Once I began to work on the article I realized that here was
a subject that needed all the attention, and more, that I could give to it. Although I had been completely unaware of it, there was in
existence a whole literature that denied that the ancient Greeks were the inventors of democracy, philosophy, and science. There were
books in circulation that claimed that Socrates and Cleopatra were of African descent, and that Greek philosophy had actually been
stolen from Egypt. Not only were these books being read and widely distributed; some of these ideas were being taught in schools
and even in universities.
Ordinarily, if someone has a theory which involves a radical departure from what the experts have professed, he is expected to defend
his position by providing evidence in its support. But no one seemed to think it was appropriate to ask for evidence from the
instructors who claimed that the Greeks stole their philosophy from Egypt.
-Mary Lefkowitz, Not Out of Africa
One is torn by two competing emotions in reading Not Out of Africa. On the one hand, there's the visceral thrill of watching idiotic
ideas get an old-fashioned butt-whipping. But, on the other hand, there's something poignant about the need of black scholars to claim
the accomplishments of the Greeks and Egyptians as their own.
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132 of 151 people found the following review helpful By Dvorak Fan on November 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Afrocentrist argument seems to proceed as follows:

Egypt was located in Africa, hence Egyptians were negroid.

Egypt exerted an enormous influence on Greece.

Greek accomplishments were "stolen" from Egypt, i.e. from Black Africa, and many famous Greeks were in fact black Africans, including Socrates and Cleopatra.

Therefore, (white) European civilization, built on that of Greece, actually stole the heritage of black Africa and claimed it for itself.

The argument is absurd, of course, for a great number of reasons. Firstly, Egypt had far more in common culturally with its Middle Eastern neighbors (which included Jews, Arabs, Midianites, Edomites, Nabateans, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Akkadians, Hittites, etc.) than with sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, the civilizations to the south of Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia, could also be characterized as having greater ties with the Middle East than with sub-Saharan Africa. The ancient Egyptian language, and the descended Coptic language of the Coptic Christians in Egypt, was a Hamito-Semitic language (as is Ethiopic), rather than Nilo-Saharan, Niger-Congan, or Khoisan. A cursory glance at the Copts of Egypt (e.g. Bhoutros Bhoutros Ghali) will indicate that they are certainly not negroid. The art of the Egyptians depicts a people with large almond-shaped dark eyes, tan to reddish-tan skin (not black), and black hair. Some admixture with sub-Saharan Africans is undeniable, yet the Egyptian language was undeniably Hamito-Semitic and culture was Middle Eastern. And why is the race of the Egyptians so important, anyway?

The Egyptians certainly had an influence on the Greeks, as did other peoples.
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