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The Black Panther Party [Reconsidered] Hardcover – February 10, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Here is a searing, illuminating and unapologetic look at the Black Panther Party, whose 1966-1982 history is one of the most controversial and dynamic political dramas of our time. Georgia State University African American studies professor Jones uses original writings from insiders, including former officials like former communication secretary Kathleen Neal Cleaver (who now teaches law in N.Y.C.), who writes about the Algerian exile she and her then-husband Eldridge Cleaver experienced during that era; and rank-and-filers like Steve D. McCutchen, whose Panther-era diary makes engrossing reading. The 18 chapters include original essays and memoirs by, and interviews with, former Panthers. Contributors include scholars of Panther history like Stanford's Angela D. LeBlanc-Ernest, Nakhil Pal Singh of N.Y.U., Clarence Lusane of American University and Trayce Mathews, a Chicago-based political activist whose dissertation explores gender dynamics in the Black Panther Party. Founded in Oakland, Calif., by Bobby Seale and the late Huey P. Newton to promote armed self-defense of the black community from an allegedly brutal police force, the Panthers soon grew into a national force. The Panthers, argues contributor Chris Booker, "embodied the highest aspirations of a generation of radical African American youth." These essays are mainly sympathetic to the Panthers' aims, and there lingers among some of them a bit of uncritical nostalgia. But contributors also critically investigate the party's complex attitude toward violence (police reprisals and inner-party conflict killed over two dozen Panthers from 1967 to 1969), inner-party gender relations, the consequences of the unstable membership mix of political activists and quasi-criminal types, and the group's romantic notions of social revolution.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Revisiting the revolutionary reputation of the Black Panther Party (BPP) of the turbulent 1960s, political scientist Jones (African American studies, Georgia State Univ.) contributes a six-part, 18-chapter probe of the reality behind the rhetoric and the substance behind the much-maligned Panther image. The anthology mixes interviews with analysis, reflections, and recollections. Former BPP members such as Kathleen Neal Cleaver, Regina Jennings, and Melvin E. Lewis and others delve into the contextual landscape of the BPP's founding in October 1966, recruitment of rank and file, organizational and gender dynamics, decline, and complex legacy. This work provokes serious thought about how authority in government and media manipulate public perception of black protest. But even more, it unfolds dimensions of the BPP as a base of black nationalism and a bridge to intercommunalism, signaling a move beyond mere memoir to helpful scholarship on the BPP's integrity and interactions. Recommended for collections on African Americans and modern U.S. history and politics. [With the recent death of Eldridge Cleaver, interest may be revived in the Panther phenomenon.?Ed.]?Thomas Davis, Arizona State Univ., Temp.
-?Thomas Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Black Classic Press (February 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0933121962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0933121966
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By flux1968 on March 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the first book to attempt to discuss the legacy of the Black Panther Party. The fact that a second book, Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party, managed to continue the work begun here without significant overlap shows what a rich legacy it was.
One essay, "The Black Panthers and the 'Undiscovered Country' of the Left" proposesthe novel idea that the Panthers had begun to emulate many aspect of an emerging nation-state by taking on the functions of provideng serverices for the community, setting up independent relations with other nations, etc., While this seemed to be unintentional, it does suggest the larger potential of the Party.
It's important to realize that there were many Black Panther "chapters" that were inspired by the Oakland Panthers but developed autonomously and had different levels of political development. The Oakland BPP attempted to gather them all into one big centralized organization but had neither the political experience ,or the time [they were attacked by city, state and federal governments almost from day one] to properly pull it together. The essays by some of the ex-Party members in this volume provide great insight into the different ways in with the BPP were able to speak to local Black communities while encapsulating the grievances and hopes common to them all.
The one weakness of the book is its defensiveness. The city, state and federal governments used the Panthers' militant politics and gun imagery to portray them as reckless thugs who covered up their criminal tendencies with political rhetoric. The authors in this book attempt to refute that by emphasizing the community organizing aspects of the BPP such as the free breakfast programs.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By rodog63jr on October 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is the first book that comes close to giving a balanced view of the history of the Black Panther party, its problems and its ultimate demise. It includes a view by regular rank and file members. It is well worth reading for those looking for an alternative to those books written by Party leaders, informants, or critics.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on October 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Black Panther Party is perhaps one of the most misunderstood political movements in the U.S. due to government disinformation and harrassment and misperceptions magnified over the years that fiction is now considered fact.

In one volume, the history of the party from 1966-1982 and beyond is presented through original writings from rank & file members and those in leadership roles and scholarly papers that cover a variety of issues, including inner-party gender relations, how the party fit into the Third World revolutionary movement and the grass-roots movement in each chapter to assist residents of all ages with nutrition and health-care.

Perhaps most important is the extensive footnotes after each piece, which assists the reader in pursuing further material and dismisses any criticism that the author has some ulterior agenda by allowing opinion to supercede a conclusion based on research.

Founded because the power structure maintained what I consider a plantation mentality to Black people in general and Black urban areas in particular and ultimately destroyed by the same power structure due to its programs of empowerment and solidarity, the real Black Panther Party may never truly be uncovered.

But this book starts that process and it is as important a retrospective as any that has been published.
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