- Hardcover: 560 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (January 14, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520271858
- ISBN-13: 978-0520271852
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 61 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#519,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #718 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Specific Demographics > Minority Studies
- #1274 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > International & World Politics > Asian
- #2264 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Sociology > Race Relations > Discrimination & Racism
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Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party Hardcover – January 14, 2013
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From the Inside Flap
This is the definitive history of one of the great revolutionary organizations in the history of this country. In this age of the Occupy Movement, let us learn deep democratic lessons and strong anti-imperial conclusions from this magisterial book!”Cornel West, author of Race Matters
This meticulously researched history explores the combination of revolutionary commitment and historical circumstance that enabled the emergence of the Black Panther Party. Because they do not shy away from the contradictions that animated this movement, Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin pose crucial questions about the genesis, rise, and decline of the BPP that are as relevant to young generations of activists as they are to those who came of age during that era.” Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz
In a stunning historical account, Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin map the complex trajectory of the ideology and practice of the Black Panther Party. Going beyond merely chronicling what happened,’ the authors situate the rise and fall of the Panthers within the prevailing, and constantly shifting, political climate at home and abroad. Much has been written about the Party, but Black against Empire is the definitive history of the Panthersone that helps us rethink the very meaning of a revolutionary movement.”Michael Omi, co-author of Racial Formation in the United States
As important as the Black Panthers were to the evolution of black power, the African American freedom struggle, and, indeed, the sixties as a whole, scholarship on the group has been surprisingly thin and all too often polemical. Certainly no definitive scholarly account of the Panthers has been produced to date, or rather had been produced to date. Bloom and Martin can now lay claim to that honor. This is, by a wide margin, the most detailed, analytically sophisticated, and balanced account of the organization yet written. Anyone who hopes to understand the group and its impact on American culture and politics will need to read this book.”Doug McAdam, author of Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970
This is the book we’ve all been waiting for: the first complete history of the Black Panther Party, devoid of the hype, the nonsense, the one-dimensional heroes and villains, the myths, or the tunnel vision that has limited scholarly and popular treatments across the ideological spectrum. Bloom and Martin’s riveting, nuanced, and highly original account revises our understanding of the party’s size, scope, ideology, and political complexity, and offers the most compelling explanations for its ebbs and flows and ultimate demise. Moreover, they reveal with spectacular clarity that the Party’s primary target was not just police brutality or urban poverty or white supremacy but U.S. Empire in all of its manifestations.”Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
Black against Empire puts the Black Panthers in dialogue with the varieties of political unrest across the country. Through a fresh analytical framework that helps us understand the revolutionary fervor of the 1960s, Bloom and Martin make clear that the Panthers were not an aberration or figment of the popular imaginary. They were the vanguard among black people seeking a way out of nowhere.”Jane Rhodes, author of Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon
The remarkable history of the Black Panther Partybattles with the police, its repression at the hands of the FBI, its breakfast-for-children and sickle-cell anemia programs, its ability to distribute 100,000 newspapers by hand each weekis in danger of being blotted from memory, or distorted to demonize them, while others try to preserve only a glorified legacy. This history by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, based mainly on historical documents, is remarkable in the scope of its narrative and attention to detail. As one who lived through the Panther era, I believe this book should become a standard historical work for years to come.” Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama
Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., have written the first comprehensive political history of the Black Panther Party. They present an unvarnished, judicious treatment of a much revered, much maligned, and widely misunderstood revolutionary organization leading the charge for Black Power’ in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They provide persuasive answers to questions about the Party’s rise and fall that others have failed to fully address. All other scholars will henceforth have to grapple with their substantial findings. General readers will find it compelling too.” Tera Hunter, Professor of History and African American Studies, Princeton University
"An essential, deeply researched, and insightful studythe best so farof the complex history, inner workings, and conflicted legacy of the Black Panther Party as it waged its relentless battle for human rights and racial dignity in the streets of urban America.” Leon F. Litwack, President, Organization of American Historians
Bloom and Martin bring to light an important chapter in American history. They carefully mine the archival data to give us an account of the rise of the Black Panther Party, of its successes and the shoals of American politics on which it fractured. In the process they give full credit to the strategic agency of the remarkable revolutionaries at the center of the story.” Frances Fox Piven, President, American Sociological Association
About the Author
Waldo E. Martin, Jr. is Professor of History at UC Berkeley. He is the author of No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar American, Brown Vs. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents, and The Mind of Frederick Douglass.
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Black Against Empire is a thorough and exhaustively researched history of the Black Panther Party. It is an engrossing read despite its scholarly nature. The authors deserve praise for writing in such a clear, readable style, and avoiding the use of jargon. I highly recommend this book for *all* audiences because it serves as a much needed balance to the prevailing negative view of the Black Panthers.
In order to provide this balance, the authors had to present a sympathetic view of the Black Panthers. The authors manage to do so while still maintaining a balanced perspective in their own text. In no sense were the authors cheerleaders for the Black Panthers. "Here are the facts, the whole story," they seem to be saying; "make up your own mind about the Black Panthers now that you have a more complete set of facts."
It is indisputable that violence was associated with the Black Panthers. However, as the authors demonstrate, much of the violence was instigated by the police or infiltrators through the FBI's notorious COINTELPRO program. The full name originally adopted by the group was the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Even though the Black Panthers' rhetoric called for violent insurrection against the government, they did little to follow through on this rhetoric. In fact, the Party's demise was in part due to its leaders' reticence to initiate a program of guerilla warfare.
Instead, the Black Panthers focused their earliest community organizing efforts on public service programs such as providing free breakfast for children, opening schools, distributing clothing and shoes, and offering bus service to prisons so that families could visit their incarcerated relatives.
In sum, the Black Panthers demonstrated how to become ungovernable. In this age of resistance to President Trump and his reactionary agenda, the Black Panthers present lessons of ungovernability from which we can learn. We also can learn from the mistakes the Black Panthers made so that our contemporary efforts to become ungovernable are more successful and are not consumed by the violence associated with the Black Panthers.
I thought I knew.
By M.H.on February 25, 2013
I have read a lot about the Black Panthers including most of the memoirs (Seize the Time, Taste of Power, This Side of Glory, Soul on Ice, Assata, Panther Baby) and several good books on narrower pieces of the history (Living for the City, Survival Pending Revolution, Murder of Fred Hampton). So I was looking for a big picture, and didn’t expect to learn much detail here. But I was shocked. There was something new on every page. Who knew that the FBI paid a highly placed agent (William O’Neal) to write stories in the Black Panther encouraging party members to torture suspected informants? Or that the commonly reproduced “October 1966” ten point program is actually from July 1968? Or that women Black Panthers hotly contested gender dynamics in the Party at the United Front on Fascism Conference? And even the events I was very familiar with (like the early police patrols in Oakland, or storming the Assembly in Sacramento) the authors put these in a whole new light, placing the events in a broader context and relation to one another in a way that it all makes sense.
Most important for me was the analysis. The authors show HOW the Black Panther Party built POWER, step by step. In Part I, they trace the roots of the Panthers’ political practices, and explain their initial successes patrolling the police. It’s telling that when black people figured out how to use gun laws to build political power, Reagan and the Republicans enacted laws to restrict the right to bear arms! In Part II, the authors show how the Party shifted gears once they couldn’t legally run the armed patrols any more. They go through this on all levels (theoretical discussion, lots of historical detail). I especially liked hearing about how the Party got organized in New York, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, and cities across the country. It is hard to believe how quickly the Party grew. In Part III they discuss the service programs, the repression, and mobilization by allies. I hadn’t realized the breakfasts and other community programs only came about in 1969. The authors show that the Party kept growing even when the government was attacking it the hardest. The Panthers were able to sustain their armed self-defense because they attracted support from so many sources. Not just radicals! I couldn’t believe organizations like the Urban League or mainstream politicians like Willie Brown were taking real action to oppose the repression of the Panthers. So much has changed today. And I knew there were Asian, and Latino, and even white groups that had copied the Black Panther Party. But I didn’t understand how important broader allies were in organizing on the ground support for trials, and community programs, and the newspaper, and keeping the Party growing. Part IV the authors talk more about those alliances, and some of the incredible international work the Panthers did, with China, Algeria, Vietnam, Cuba.
As a long-time activist, these were the most important lessons for me. We can’t just take up arms and take over our communities. Anyone with sense knows that wouldn’t work today. But neither can we just march and sit in and demand civil rights and turn the other cheek. More black people are in jail today than were slaves before the Civil War. How can we do something about that? The authors don’t give easy answers to these questions. But they really helped me think about what it would take. If we are going to resist authority, we will be repressed. So who is going to help us face that repression?
The last few chapters where the Party unravels were the hardest part of the book for me to read. So sad that things had to come to that. But ignorance is bliss, right? I was really grateful that the book didn’t pull any punches. And I think I am convinced by the authors’ arguments that the tensions that tore the Party apart were larger than the personal and organizational conflicts through which they played out, and had a lot to do with growth of the black middle-class, and the repeal of the draft.
Thank you Drs. Martin and Bloom! Your book really changes things for me.