- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Communist Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 17, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Special offers and product promotions
About the Author
Paul Kengor, Ph.D., is a bestselling author whose works include Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century; God and Ronald Reagan; God and George W. Bush; God and Hillary Clinton; and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism. His articles regularly appear in publications ranging from USA TODAY to The New York Times, plus numerous academic journals. A professor at Grove City College, Kengor is a frequent commentator on television and radio. Kengor earned his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and his master’s from American University.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Growing Up Frank
FRANK MARSHALL DAVIS was born on December 31, 1905. He grew up in Arkansas City, Kansas, which he described as a “yawn town fifty miles south of Wichita, five miles north of Oklahoma, and east and west of nowhere worth remembering.”1 That was a charitable description, given the racism he endured in that little town.
In his memoirs, Frank began by taking readers back to his high-school graduation on a “soft night in late spring, 1923.” He was six feet one and 190 pounds at age seventeen, but “I feel more like one foot six; for I am black, and inferiority has been hammered into me at school and in my daily life from home.” He and three other black boys “conspicuously float in this sea of white kids,” the four of them the most blacks ever in one graduating class. “There are no black girls,” wrote Frank. “Who needs a diploma to wash clothes and cook in white kitchens?”2
Frank was rightly indignant at this “hellhole of inferiority.” He said that he and his fellow “Negroes reared in Dixie” were considered “the scum of the nation,” whose high-school education “has prepared us only to exist at a low level within the degrading status quo.” And even the education they acquired was often belittling. “My white classmates and I learned from our textbooks that my ancestors were naked savages,” said Frank, “exposed for the first time to uplifting civilization when slave traders brought them from the jungles of Africa to America. Had not their kindly white masters granted these primitive heathens the chance to save their souls by becoming Christians?”3
Frank would one day rise above the degrading status quo. For now, he lamented that he himself had fallen victim to this “brainwashing,” and “ran spiritually with the racist white herd, a pitiful black tag-a-long.”4
As Frank surveyed the sea of white classmates that soft spring evening, he was glad to know it would be the last time he would be with them. He could think of only three or four white boys who had treated him as an equal and a friend, and whom he cared to remember.5
One moment that was unforgettably seared into his soul was an incident when he was five years old. An innocent boy, Frank was walking home across a vacant lot when two third-grade thugs jumped him, tossed him to the ground, and slipped a noose over his neck. He kicked and screamed as the two devils prepared, in Frank’s words, “their own junior necktie party.” They were trying to lynch little Frank Marshall Davis.6
As the noose tightened, a white man heroically appeared, chasing away the two savages, freeing Frank, brushing the dirt from his clothes. He walked little Frank nearly a mile home, then simply turned around and went about his business. Frank never learned the man’s identity.7
Imagine if that kindly man could have known that that “Negro” boy he shepherded home would one day help mentor the first black president of the United States. It is a moving thought, one that cannot help but elicit the most heartfelt sympathy for Frank, even in the face of his later political transgressions.
Frank’s parents apparently informed the school of the attempted lynching, but school officials did not bother. “I was still alive and unharmed, wasn’t I?” scoffed Frank. “Besides, I was black.”
Frank rose above the jackboot of this repression, assuring the world that this was one young black man who would not be tied down. He enrolled in college, first attending Friends University in Wichita, before transferring to Kansas State University in Manhattan.8 At Kansas State from 1924 to 1926, Frank majored in journalism and practiced writing poetry, impressing students and faculty alike.
These colleagues were almost universally white. To their credit, some of them saw in Frank a writing talent and were eager to help.
Of course, that upturn did not end the racism in Frank’s life. Another ugly incident occurred in a return home during college break.9
A promising young man, Frank was working at a pool hall, trying to save money to put himself through school. It was midnight, and he was walking home alone. A black sedan slowly approached him. Out of the lowered window came a redneck voice: “Where’n hell you goin’ this time of night?”
Frank warily glanced over and saw two white men in the front seat and another in the back. Worried, he asked why it was their business.
“Don’t get smart, boy. We’re police,” snapped one of them, flashing a badge slightly above his holstered pistol. “I’m police chief here. Now, what th’ hell you doing in this neighborhood this time of night?”
A frightened Frank explained that this was his neighborhood. He had lived there for years, was home on college break, and was simply walking home from work.
“Yeah?” barked the chief. “Well, you git your black ass in the car with us. A white lady on th’ next street over phoned there was somebody prowling around her yard.”
Frank asked, “Am I supposed to fit the description?”
The chief found Frank’s question haughty: “Shut up an’ git in the car!”
They delivered Frank to the woman’s doorstep. “Ain’t this him?” said the hopeful chief.
The woman quickly said it was not. Frank looked nothing at all like the man she had spotted.
“Are you sure?” pushed the chief. “Maybe you made a mistake.”
The lady insisted that Frank was not the suspect, to the lawman’s great disappointment.
Frank suspected that the chief was keenly disappointed not to have the opportunity to work him over. “It wasn’t everyday they had a chance to whip a big black nigger,” said Frank, “and a college nigger at that.”
The chief told Frank to get back in the car, where he began interrogating him again, even though Frank was fully exonerated. The chief was not relenting. He was looking for blood.
“Where do you live?” the chief continued. Frank stated his address. The chief turned to his buddies: “I didn’t know any damn niggers lived in this part of town, did you?” One of the officers replied: “There’s a darky family livin’ down here somewhere.”
Frank was utterly helpless, at the mercy of men with badges and guns and “the law” behind them. He boiled inside, but could do nothing. He later wrote: “At that moment I would have given twenty years off my life had I been able to bind all three together, throw them motionless on the ground in front of me, and for a whole hour piss in their faces.”
Frank escaped this incident physically unharmed, released to his home by the police. But he was hardly unscathed. Such injustice understandably fueled a lifelong resentment.
Frank’s upbringing, as told through his memoirs, is gripping. His writing is witty, engaging, sarcastic, at times delightful, leaving it hard not to like Frank, or at least be entertained by him. But the wonderful passages are tempered by Frank’s numerous ethnic slurs, mostly aimed in a self-deprecating manner at himself and his people, but also directed at others, such as “the Spanish Jew” (never named) whose restaurant he frequented in Atlanta, and, worst of all, by the many sexually explicit passages. One can see in Frank’s memoirs the author of Sex Rebel, and one can see a lot of sexism, with Frank making constant graphic references to women’s private parts (with vulgar slang terms) and referring to women as everything from “white chicks” to “a jane” to a “luscious ripened plum,” just for starters.10 In his memoirs, Frank devoted an inordinate amount of space to his sexual encounters. Sex Rebel must have been his chance to more fully indulge his lurid obsessions.
• • •
Of course, Frank also invested his writing talent in noble purposes: advancing civil rights by chronicling the persecutions of a black man. Interestingly, to that end, Frank’s memoirs are remarkably similar to Barack Obama’s memoirs; the running thread being the racial struggles of a young black man in America.
Frank’s memoirs reveal an often bitter man, one who had suffered the spear of racial persecution. His contempt for his culture and society also led to a low view of America. When America is acknowledged in his memoirs, it is not a pretty portrait: “The United States was the only slaveholding nation in the New World that completely dehumanized Africans by considering them as chattel, placing them in the same category as horses, cattle, and furniture.” That attitude, wrote Frank, was still held by too many American whites.11 Thus, his hometown of Arkansas City was “no better or worse than a thousand other places under the Stars and Stripes.”12
Again, that bitterness is understandable, a toxic by-product of the evil doings of Frank’s tormentors. Yet what is unfortunate about Frank’s narrative is the lack of concession, smothered (as it was) by resentment, that this same America, no matter the sins of its children, still pr...
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
At first I was afraid this might be some screaming right-wing zealot, but I found out differently. Dr. Kengor has been in the habit of researching the mentors of recent American Presidents. He did this for Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes I believe (correct me if I am wrong.) This is an interesting niche for a historian - 'Study the man who made the man'. It was his work long before this president even thought about running for office.
I was interested to hear our President cite the subject of this book in his own biography. I heard the President speak about how important this man was to him. I heard it in the President's own voice on my audiobook. I buy Kengor's books as hard copies, rather than as audiobooks, because every fact is footnoted with original sources and many documents and photographs are included. You miss these valuable details in audiobooks.
Kengor makes very few judgments in this book. Instead, he presents a huge amount of facts, almost all first hand sources, and gives footnotes. Reader's can make their own conclusions.
This is not fast or easy reading. The threads of Communism that intertwine or run parallel for the decades building up from the 30's until Davis meets Obama is its own story and not easy to follow. But it is important. In addition to learning about Frank Davis, and Obama, I learned quite a bit about Communists in general and how they work their disinformation and spread influence.
A great fact-based book on an important topic. Worth studying.
Frank Marshall Davis was an African-American born in Kansas in 1905. He would later become a journalist, writing on civil rights issues. Still later, he would fall into a bad crowd, like Paul Robeson (who would be awarded the Stalin Peace Prize) and Ben Davis, associate editor for the Daily Worker. During WWII, a war which saw the CPUSA flop TWICE on orders from Moscow and also saw many American "progressives" quit in disgust, Frank decided to get on board. He edited Red papers in Atlanta and Chicago before suddenly packing up and moving to Hawaii.
Frank never deviated from the Party Line. Even as America revived Europe with the Marshall Plan and Truman rid the Armed Forces of segregation via executive order Frank vilified the United States and praised Stalin and the USSR in the pages of the Honolulu Record. America was the great evil in the world and communism its greatest hope... at least in Frank's mind.
But his thoughts and opinions in the 1940s, 50s and 60s are inconsequential, written as they were in Red newspapers which were only followed by Marx's disciples. It is the 1970s when Frank might have done his worst damage to the United States of America: he began mentoring a young man by the name of Barry Obama. Obama's biological father was in Kenya and his (first) stepfather was in Indonesia, leaving Frank to bitterly warn Obama against "the American Way and all that s***."
Obama would later mention Frank several times in his autobiography.
Well-written and well-researched, this book covers a topic that the mainstream media would rather not talk about. And the proof of this man is available for all to see, thanks to the end of the USSR and the CPUSA records kept in Moscow. Dr. Kengor does not say Obama is a communist. But Frank was there when Obama needed a father figure. And we know what kind of attitude that father had.