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W. E. B. Du Bois, 1868-1919: Biography of a Race (Owl Books) Paperback – December 15, 1994

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Through the African American Lens: Double Exposure by
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Editorial Reviews


“A remarkable study . . . . Mr. Lewis so vividly evokes the environments that shaped Du Bois that one almost participates in the life.” ―Waldo E. Martin, Jr., The New York Times Book Review

“An engrossing masterpiece . . . . A dazzling feat of scholarship performed with Lewis's customary grace of style.” ―Nell Irvin Painter, The Washington Post Book World

“To say that Lewis's is the finest biography of Du Bois ever written hardly does justice to his performance. Until the publication of this superb new book, Du Bois's life had never received the treatment it deserves.” ―Eric Foner, The Nation

“A marvel of scholarship and discernement. David Levering Lewis's remarkable, stunningly detailed book reshapes our understanding of Du Bois at so many points as to instantly become the standard biography.” ―Martin Bauml Duberman

About the Author

David Levering Lewis is the Martin Luther King Jr., chair in the history at Rutgers University. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Humanities Center, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Educated at Fisk and Columbia Universities and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Lewis is the author of several acclaimed books, including King: A Biography, When Harlem Was in Vogue, The Race to Fashoda. He and his wife live in Manhattan.


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Product Details

  • Series: Owl Books
  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (December 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805035680
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805035681
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Prior to reading volume one of David Lewis' "W.E.B. Du Bois:Biography of a Race" I was somewhat puzzled by the subtitle. But the significance of the subtitle becomes clear as one progresses through the book because Lewis does a wonderful job of tying Du Bois' life, thought, personality, and political activity to the evolving fortunes of African Americans as a people. Like all great biographies this one places Du Bois squarely in his social and historical environment. The result is that one gains deep insight into the plight of African America in the Age of Jim Crow as well as the various divisions within that community over strategies for dealing with the greater society.
This magisterial work is not a book for the casual reader who wants little more than a few facts about the life of W.E.B. Du Bois. It is a complex tapestry of a troubled man who saw himself as "the avatar of a race whose troubled fate he was predestined to interpret and direct." Lewis clearly wishes to show how Du Bois was "the incomparable mediator of the wounded souls of black people." This is a very rich and full biography. There are many asides and digressions as Lewis takes the reader into the troubled world of the educated African American at the end of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth. The conflicts and turmoil among Du Bois' "Talented Tenth" are vividly brought to the fore as the struggle between the Tuskegee Machine of Booker Washington and the more "radical" Du Bois faction takes center stage.
Du Bois' development and personal history are thoroughly covered as are all his important writings.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I have been in awe of William Edward Burghardt DuBois since I read "The Souls of Black Folk" in 1967. As a ninth grader in the heart of the civil rights era, his passion for intelligence and his people moved me. I have longed to read the history of his life since. Lewis' book more than satisfied my longing. Lewis writes artisticly. The language sometimes caused me to stop and enjoy the words on paper as DuBois' writngs had in 1967. I understand the Pulitzer award, the text is brilliant and the research complete. The life of W.E.B. DuBois is even greater than the writing. This life deserved the best possible writing and research. I am amazed with the effort spent on the lifes of mere celebrities. Lives of great people such as DuBois deserve study. This life requires two volumes as Mr. Lewis intends. This life, W. E. B. DuBois, explores many of the issues we face today with race in America. As detailed by Mr. Lewis there is little experienced since the end of slavery Dr. DuBois and not considered in his thoughts or experienced in his life. The debates of the sixties between seperation or intergration were not new to DuBuois. He challenged Marcus Garvey. The thoughts of todays Black conservatives would have been understod by DuBois. He debated with Booker T. Washington. Lewis allows us to understand the debates in their time and place. DuBois departure from America in the ninth decade of his life can be understood if we know the depths of his commitment to the american ideals of freedom and meritocracy. America broke his heart. Reading his life will help all understand the way America breaks the heart of many who accept her ideals, try to live them, and are rejeced. It hurts. I have been waiting for the second volume since the day I finished the first.
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Format: Paperback
I wanted to learn about W.E. B. Dubois and I did --the book is thoroughly researched --but at times there is too much detail; as an example, sometimes DuBois the man seemed hidden in digressions which covered his writings in what seemed to me excessive detail. I admired the work and analysis required to reach this level of specificity but regretted that there was relatively little about his day to day life and that there was not tighter editing and crisper prose.
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Format: Paperback
When one thinks of the scope of American History, there are few names that stand out. Chief among them is a man by the name of William Edward Burghardt DuBois, better known as W.E.B. DuBois. For nearly all of his life, wherever DuBois attended an academic institution, he excelled at the highest levels. Though he was reared in a predominately White town in Massachusetts, his academic gifts were so apparent that the White residents got together and secured funds to send him to college since his single mother was too indigent to do so. Despite the White residents "liberalism," they weren't liberal enough to send him across state, though his academic record qualified him, to enter Harvard. In the eyes of the White townsmen, he was still, "just a Negro," so color prejudice prevented him from attending the school of his choice. So, instead DuBois was sent South to attend the historically Black institution of Fisk University, where he excelled. DuBois, ever the supremely persistent, confident, ambitious person that he was, turned right around and took his behind to his unfinished business of graduating from Harvard, where he was allowed to enter as a junior, and ultimately graduated. He went on to graduate school in Germany, at a time when the University of Berlin was considered several levels above the level of Harvard. Imagine going to Germany, having to speak an unknown foreign tongue, then having to perform in that foreign tongue at what is considered the highest levels of academic life--that is what DuBois did, and once again, he excelled. He did so well, that his fellowship was cut off "because he was receiving (in the eyes of the White Gatekeepers) an education that was too high for a Negro." Oh well, guess what? DuBois would have to settle and compromise.Read more ›
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