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Panther Baby Hardcover – February 7, 2012

4.9 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Orphan, activist, subversive, urban guerrilla, the FBI’s most wanted fugitive, drug addict, drug counselor, convict, writer, poet, filmmaker, father, professor, youth advocate, and Oscar nominee Jamal Joseph lives with his wife and family in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565129504
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565129504
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,488,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Terry on January 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A must read for all people, especially people just waking up to or continuing in the struggle to dismantle American Apartheid. This story reads like a riveting, non-stop, action adventure, with much heartbreak, tears and joy encountered along the way. I was taken back to an earlier time and reminded of what still needs to be done. A remarkable man; a remarkable life; a remarkable story. Thank you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's around 9:30 PST on Saturday night and I just finished Jamal Joseph's amazing book. It's all true but it's as good as any thriller fiction I've read, maybe better. I started reading this afternoon, forgot to eat dinner I was so drawn in. It's the story of a man who's lived his life starting at the bottom and ending up at the top, with two stints in prison in between - all this before he became the Dean of Columbia University Film School. He was a Black Panther, a community organizer, a prison playwright, a screenwriter, a director and a husband and father of three. For those of you who weren't around during the Civil Rights wars, here's a chance to experience them. For those of you who were, it's a chance to reminisce as if you were hearing it from an old and dear friend. Well written, fast paced, lively, tragic and in the end, joyful.

The film rights to Jamal Joseph's story have been optioned by Focus Features but don't wait until the movie comes out, read the book now. You won't be able to put it down.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As some other reviewers have indicated, this non-fiction portrayal of Jamal James life reads like a novel. There are many interesting characters and experiences along the way that keeps the reader turning the pages. My one criticism, however, and why "only" 4 stars, is the lack of a cohesive message. What did it all mean? Was anything accomplished and is anything being accomplished to advance the black experience and plight in white America? While the Panthers attempted to resolved that dilemma, the movement faded on the vine, and this book offers no answer as to what did, or can, replace. it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked this up on Kindle after reading a short excerpt on the web and had a chance to read it over my spring break. It is an extremely interesting book and a look at a fascinating time in our country's history through the eyes of an urban, black teenager. I must say I know very little about the history of the black panthers and what I did know was through the lens of them being "terrorists." I won't go into my politics, but regardless of that it is a deeply entertaining book.
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Format: Hardcover
I was floored while reading Jamal Joseph’s biography of his life growing up in Harlem as a Black Panther in the late 60’s. The Panthers have long been depicted as a revolutionary group intent on killing cops, but Jamal’s biographical life as a Panther enlightens and educates readers in a completely different way.

The Panthers perform community service and break up drug dens, while protecting and empowering The People to rise above their circumstances. Their ties to the community are strong, along with their attempts to educate young and old to be more than what circumstances have made of them. It’s true that weapons and fights against The Establishment were part of Panther life due to the way Blacks and Panthers were treated, but Jamal puts a humanity to them and their work allowing readers to understand why they were an important part of life for impoverished Black Americans.

“Panther Baby” pulls no punches, depicting biographical accounts of the police brutality of the times, the race struggles of poor Blacks in Harlem and other urban cities, street warfare, and prison life. Jamal was smack in the middle of it all, and brings readers along for the rides of their lives. As a true Panther who once believed in educating the masses, he continues that belief today as he educates readers through writing “Panther Baby.” I won’t be surprised to see it earn some sort of literary award at the upcoming ALA Media Awards in Seattle. In fact, I really hope it does.

Recommended for ages 17 and older.
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Format: Paperback
In Panther Baby, Jamal Joseph (born Eddie Joseph) relates personal and historic reason that brought him to join the Black Panther Party. Quickly tracing developments from the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights movement through the history of the family with whom he is living, we see how revolutionaries of the sixties were almost a natural development from previous generations. Joseph was an intelligent, keenly aware and angry young Black man who through a series of circumstances decided to join the Black Panther Party. In his anger, he sees the Panthers as a militant organization that will allow him to fight any and every person who crosses his purposeful path. He quickly learned however, that the Panthers were more about doing right than being right; that their struggle was more a class struggle than a race struggle and that their aim was to overthrow the capitalist system that perpetuated inequality and injustice. Readers soon learn that Panthers were not anti-White. They were anti-establishment and anti-government.

Joseph details many community programs run by the Panthers as well as their training with firearms. When he ends up in prison the first time, I think I as a reader began to really see Jamal's deep commitment to the organization. He never seemed to question how he was betrayed. Rather, he took what he had learned from the Panthers and used it to empower his fellow prisoners. He learned the ways of prison life just as he learned the ways of the street and the ways of the Panthers, all of this being a code of decency which when maneuvered correctly allowed one to give and receive respect through proper treatment of others.
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