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The Rastafarians: Twentieth Anniversary Edition [Kindle Edition]

Leonard E. Barrett
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Paperback $15.16  
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Book Description

The classic work on the history and beliefs of the Rastafarians, whose roots of protest go back to the seventeenth-century maroon societies of escaped slaves in Jamaica. Based on an extensive study of the Rastafarians, their history, their ideology, and their influence in Jamaica, The Rastafarians is an important contribution to the sociology of religion and to our knowledge of the variety of religious expressions that have grown up during the West African Diaspora in the Western Hemisphere.

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Editorial Reviews


Removes the aura of bizarre mystery from the Jamaican messianic movement whose members smoke marijuana for ritual purposes and believe that Ethiopia is the Promised Land for all blacks. Setting the Rastafarians in the context of . . . colonial exploitation, Barrett shows how the cult has been nourished on grinding poverty, examines its belief system, dynamics, rituals, art and music, and its 'ambivalent routinization' within Jamaican society. . . . Students of religion and sociology, fans of reggae music, and the general reader will gain much from this unusual study. --Publishers Weekly

"The most thorough, careful consideration of the Rasta phenomenon available to the general reader." --Boston Phoenix

"Barrett's account is authoritative and original; it is a work for the serious student of culture, religious sects and Caribbean studies. . . . An important contribution." --Folklore Review

"Leonard Barrett's The Rastafarians stands as the most solid, complete treatment available in this country to date." --New Age

About the Author

Leonard E. Barrett, Sr., is emeritus professor of religion at Temple University. His previous works include Soul-Force: African Heritage in Afro-American Religion, which was nominated for a National Book Award, and The Sun and the Drum, an examination of the African roots of Jamaica's folk culture.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5776 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 20 Anv edition (December 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001KR0G3I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,535 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jah Rastafari! February 29, 2004
Being somewhat familiar with the Rastafari movement already and being somewhat fascinated by the culture I decided to read this book. The book starts out by tracing the history of slavery in Jamaica and outlining the conditions that precipitated a movement such as Rastafarianism which seeks a more equitable and just society. A decent amount is dedicated to Ethiopia and the idea of Ethiopianism where Rastafarians basically view this country in the same way as Zion is viewed by the Jews. Later elaboration explains mythical elements of the religion as well as the symbols, beliefs and rituals of the group such as smoking herb for a deeper understanding of a cosmic consciousness. I especially enjoyed the parts in the book where the author expounded upon the artistic improvements Rastas have made not only in Jamaica but the world over with things such as reggae music. Also kudos to him for talking about Bob Marley because he is a good reason the religion has gained popularity the world over. I won't give this book a 5 of 5 though because I did find the last chapter to be somewhat rambling and some of the ideas in the book are repeated a little bit too much for my taste. I think some people who aren't as interested in the movement as I am would have a little trouble keeping interested the whole way through. All-in-all though I think this is a pretty good read and does a good job explaining the basics of the Rastafarian beliefs and also gives detail about the socio-economic factors that contributed to this voice against colonialism and oppression.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars At least there's some worthwhile content February 22, 2001
As I have an interest in studying various sects, and had not yet spent much time learning about Rastafarianism, I bought this book for an introduction to that faith. I will say that there is much valuable content in it regarding the history of Jamaica and Jamaican slavery and the beliefs and rituals of various Rastafarian groups, and even an interesting though slim aside on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. On the other hand, the writing is amateurish and repetitive. Perhaps each chapter began life initially as an individual paper and Barrett later compiled separate papers into his book, without removing repetitive, overlapping information. However, this does not explain the overall fair, and sometimes poor, quality of the writing in general. Additionally, while often bending over backward to apologize for questionable aspects of Rastafarian history, he seems to treat other religious traditions on the island with an attitude of judgmental disdain. Though I learned a good deal of history, I did not feel that I was reading a scholarly work.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the most overlooked book i've read in rastafari September 29, 1999
By A Customer
thorough, this gives the reader a great look at Rasta through a Jamaican point of view. the boba man is covered in his earlier days. the binghi is given proper place in rasta. flaws include the lack of identification given to Gad as his picture is there. much attention was given to Sam Brown, is that a good thing? not sure, but this book is to one the pre-cursor as far as an outsider learning about Rasta.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good overview of Rastafarianism August 5, 2007
A very good overview of Rastafarianism

Leonard E. Barrett, Sr., is graduate professor of religion at Temple University and the current printing of "The Rastafarians" is the twentieth anniversary edition of an important study of the society, culture, religion, history, ideology, and influence of the Rastafarians of Jamaica.

Professor Barrett has written a most comprehensive study of the Rastafarians, one perhaps deserving to be called a definitive study, spanning as it does the several decades of the movement's history. Professor Barrett is not a Rastaman, but is sympathetic to the movement and broadly if critically supportive of its aims.

I purchased this book for an introduction to to Rastafarianism, having been only very superficially acquainted with it. This is an ideal work for a reader to whom Rastafarianism is new as it provides a detailed yet brief history of Jamaica and the institution of slavery, the social cleavages that arose out of slavery, the lasting effects of colonialism and racial discrimination, and the history, doctrine, polity and ritual of the several Rastafarian groupings.

The book covers all the major doctrines of the religion, a history of it important personages, its social and political aims and contributions, and the various denominations within the tradition that have developed over the decades. I especially enjoyed the author's providing of some personal accounts of his interactions with Rastafarians in Jamaica.

Professor Barrett has made the Rastafarian religion and culture an object of fascination for me, and a subject of which I want to learn a great deal more.

I highly recommend this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I found this book helpful November 23, 2004
This is the first book I read on Rastafarianism. I chose it because the author is not a Rastafarian, but he is sympathetic to the religion. Consequently, as I had hoped the book was both objective and lacked any persuasive intent.

The author situates the Rastafarian religion in the history, culture and politics of Jamaica. I appreciated the author providing these connections because it gave the religion a rootedness in time and place that a work which only covered the doctrines of the religion would not afford.

The book covers all the major doctrines of the religion, a history of it principal religious figures, its hopes and aspirations, its cultural contributions, and the various "schools" or "denominations" within the religion that have developed over the years. I particularly enjoyed the author's ability to speak objectively about the religion as well as provide some personal accounts of his interactions with Rastafarians in Jamaica. He made the religion fascinating to me, something I want to study more.

I highly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read Rasta
Ive read this book and loved. Loan it to a friend and never got it back. It wasnt mine to loan but I found it on and had to get it.
Published 3 months ago by Martin Yates
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
While the spirit of this book is great, the organization and depth is mediocre. It is also somewhat dated despite being a newer, anniversary edition. Read more
Published 9 months ago by James
4.0 out of 5 stars From a scholarly perspective.
As a student of anthropology, this is a very interesting book. It covers the broad subject matter of the Jamaican Rastafarian religion, including their core beliefs and rituals. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Christopher Davidson
5.0 out of 5 stars EDUCATE YOURSELF
A beautiful religion and philosophy. I read an earlier draft or earlier publication in or around 1987/88 as research for a Rastafarian character I was writing for a film. Read more
Published 11 months ago by lois harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent discovery of Rasta faith.
This is an in depth view of the early and contemporary Ratsa movement. A must for sympathizers and spiritual people also.
Published 12 months ago by JahShaman
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional
An exceptional read. Visited my family history. One love to my great uncle Claudius Henry and my cousin Ronald Henry
Published 14 months ago by Ainsworth Henry
3.0 out of 5 stars Good historically, but what about now?
I have learned quite a bit from the book, but it disappointed me in that it's mostly a history of the Rasta movement in the 1960s & 1970s, and doesn't really tell you much about... Read more
Published on December 13, 2010 by calumbinho
5.0 out of 5 stars I and I, yes I
was a gift for homie inside... "powers that be" would not accept. real bummer man!
Published on November 26, 2009 by tak2much
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting
I found this book to be a very interesting and informative book about the history of the slaves in Jamaica and the lifestyles of Rastafarians on the island
Published on January 1, 2008 by Rasta_girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Want to start learning about Rastafarians?
This book was an excellent reference for my begining research on Rasta's, especially how they came about. If you don't know much about this culture & people, this is a good base.
Published on March 8, 2007 by Edith C. Williams
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