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Wretched of the Earth

102 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0802150837
ISBN-10: 0802150837
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Editorial Reviews Review

Frantz Fanon (1925-61) was a Martinique-born black psychiatrist and anticolonialist intellectual; The Wretched of the Earth is considered by many to be one of the canonical books on the worldwide black liberation struggles of the 1960s. Within a Marxist framework, using a cutting and nonsentimental writing style, Fanon draws upon his horrific experiences working in Algeria during its war of independence against France. He addresses the role of violence in decolonization and the challenges of political organization and the class collisions and questions of cultural hegemony in the creation and maintenance of a new country's national consciousness. As Fanon eloquently writes, "[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."

Although socialism has seemingly collapsed in the years since Fanon's work was first published, there is much in his look into the political, racial, and social psyche of the ever-emerging Third World that still rings true at the cusp of a new century. --Eugene Holley, Jr.


“The writing of Malcolm X or Eldridge Cleaver or Amiri Baraka or the Black Panther leaders reveals how profoundly they have been moved by the thoughts of Frantz Fanon. —The Boston Globe

“Have the courage to read this book.”—Jean-Paul Sartre

“This century’s most compelling theorist of racism and colonialism.” –Angela Davis

“The value of The Wretched of the Earth [lies] in its relation to direct experience, in the perspective of the Algerian revolution. . . . Fanon forces his readers to see the Algerian revolution—and by analogy other contemporary revolutions—from the viewpoint of the rebels.”—Conor Cruise O’Brien, Nation

“The Wretched of the Earth is an explosion.”—Emile Capouya, Saturday Review

“This is not so much a book as a rock thrown through the window of the West. It is the Communist Manifesto or the Mein Kampf of the anticolonial revolution, and as such it is highly important for any Western reader who wants to understand the emotional force behind that revolution.”—Time
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (April 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802150837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802150837
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Rachel L. Steen on November 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Almost all prominent black revolutionaries of the 1960s, from Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Nelson Mandela carried heavy influences from Fanon's writings in their struggles from social change and racial equality. However, Fanon's "wretched of the Earth" could arguably be the ultimate manifesto, or bible of Third World liberation. Fanon was no Gandhi, though. ; he makes his strongest point to suggest that all solutions to decolonization lay on violent revolution by using the Frech-colonized Algeria as a model and his Manichean (Good Vs. Evil), or bipolar portrayal of the endless antagonism that naturally arises between the colonized and the settler.

Fanon describes the conditions that emerge to allow for a war of liberation to take a foothold, the wave of repression unleashed

by the occupying army to put down the rebellions, and most interestingly - because it is what has taken place ever since - the prospects of continued exploitation by the established relationship between the new "revolutionary" bourgeoisie and the former colonizer country after the nationalist struggle and pressure at home had forced its withdrawal.

Fanon gives psychologycal analyses to testimonies given by his Algerians and French patients during the war period, and who had been affected directly or otherwise by the war. Cases involving French soldiers and police's torture, selective asassinations, surviving a mass killing, and gang rapes of rebels' wives by the French are some of which Fanon describes with chilling detail in the appendix.

"The Wretched of the Earth" remains an invaluable document that testify to the often overlooked argument made by numerous armed movements of the 1960s as revolutions broke out throughout the ex-colonized World.
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58 of 67 people found the following review helpful By LS on March 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a very useful book to anybody interested in understanding colonialism and its effects in Africa. Colonialism was a military project, and Fanon explained that clearly. Fanon does not shy away from suggesting the use of force, if necessary, to achieved freedom. But this book is not about the use of force/violence to achieve freedom, and should not be regarded as such. It is a book that explains western attitudes towards the colonized world, their willingness to use violence, their assault on African culture, and the curruption of African leaders after independence. Do not forget that independence came to Africa, after the French, the British and Belgians were given a clear warning about the fate that was awaiting them in other parts of Africa by the FLN (in Algeria), the MAU MAU movement (in Kenya), and the very aggressive movement for indepence in the Congo and Ghana. Europe was distoryed after World War II, and their armies could no longer sustain their military projects in Africa. This vulnerability was exploited by African leaders. That is why they failed in maintaining direct colonial control of their former colonies. When you ready this excellent material, you will appreciate Fanon's foresight:-his warning to Africans(and every colonized country)to take their destiny into their own hands: saying that every generation must out of relative obscurity, find its mission, fulfill it or betray it. A warning that most Africans ignored after independence. To anybody interested in the works of people like Dr. Walter Rodney, Aime Cesaire, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Basil Davidson, this book is a "Must Read". Please read other Fanon material: Toward African Revolution, Dying Colonism, Black Skin White Masks. Interesting reading! Every African must read Fanon's books!
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71 of 85 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Those reviews that castigate Fanon for "glorifying violence" ought to be ignored. Fanon is writing, among other things, a phenomenology of anti-colonialism. It is meant neither as a recommendation nor a condemnation but as a description of the objective truth of a historical condition. That is, for Fanon reverse racist violent nationalism is a stage in the emergence of a political consiciousness that will eventually overcome and, indeed, renounce its own beginnings. What is remarkable is that people at present are so manifestly incapable of reading a dialctical unfolding such as this. The violence of the Algerian War had already largely taken place at the time of Fanon's writing and, let it be recalled, it was primarily the murder of Algerians by the French, for whom African imperialism is still a profitable if somewhat unsavory business.
While Fanon tracks the stages in the evolution of a radical anti-capitalist consciousness in the underdeveloped world, there is no question of his endorsing or advocating violence. One has only to read the final chapter on the psychological effects on both the colonizer and the colonized to see that Fanon is acutely aware of the brutality for all concerned of the Algerian War, even or, indeed, especially, for the oppressors themselves. There is certainly no question of his endorsing the indiscriminate horrors committed that were committed by the FLN against their oppressors.
The other thing, of course, that the petulant, anti-intellectual, ahistorical reactionaries who have shared their opinions here conveniently ignore is the violence inherent in the settler colonialism Fanon was addressing.
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