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Stokely: A Life Hardcover – March 4, 2014
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New York Times Book Review
An insightful, highly engaging and fluently written biography”
Joseph’s account of Carmichael’s life is well-written and well-researched, providing persuasive explanations for his appeal.... Joseph’s biography fills a huge void and is a welcome addition to the scholarly literature on the civil rights movement.”
This is at its heart a book of ideas ideas about power, freedom, and identity and of a life, the author writes, that took shape against the backdrop of a domestic war for America’s very soul.’”
Mr. Joseph’s detail rich biography delves into the life of a political activist turned icon while not forgetting to show us his human side.”
Post & Courier
A thorough and engaging account of one of the most important figures of the civil rights movement. Stokely achieves its primary goal of restoring Carmichael to his rightful place in the pantheon of influential Americans.... Offers delicious details, thoughtful analysis and a good amount of drama concerning this enigmatic figure.... Joseph’s landmark book is the best portrait yet of this important, complicated man and the America he so wanted to love but could not.”
An unflinching look at an unflinching man.”
Peniel E. Joseph’s newly published biography of Black liberation activist Stokely Carmichael not only takes its rightful place next to Taylor Branch’s epic trilogy The King Years, but also to one of the most powerful autobiographies by any American: Stokely Carmichael’s own Ready For Revolution.... Stokely: A Life is a quality read. By highlighting the life of one of the US civil rights/black liberation most important organizers and thinkers, Peniel E. Joseph has done a great service to history and to the people Stokely fought for. Furthermore, Peniel’s text has lifted Carmichael out of an obscurity he not only didn’t deserve, but which also prevented a more complete understanding of a man who, with Malcom X and Martin Luther King, Jr., deserves to be recognized as one of the great leaders of one of the greatest grassroots movements for liberation in history: the Black freedom struggle in the United States.”
Meticulously-researched and painstakingly-detailed, Stokely: A Life is a fast-flowing, informative read which intimately follows its subject from the cradle to the grave in absorbing fashion. In the process, this powerful portrait effectively re-positions him as an uncompromising prophet who played a pivotal role in the struggle for black equality.”
A thought-provoking biography.... A brilliant bio with plenty of brio”
This stunningly thorough appraisal of this radical activist, 50 years after the heroic period’ of the civil rights movement, is both timely and relevant.... Should surely be considered required material for a fuller understanding of a critical, and ongoing, American struggle.”
Joseph showcases the brilliance of the man, his exceptional ideals and his pursuit of an equality that was years ahead of his time.”
A...nuanced portrait of this activist, who started as a community organizer fighting for and with the underclass and who jolted the racist core of the American con
Top Customer Reviews
The problem with this biography is that Stokely never comes alive in its pages. Dr. Joseph is, no doubt, an excellent historian, as his biography implies. The book is filled with footnotes, the Sources and Bibliography section is lengthy and impressive. But facts don't make A Life--it takes a special narrative talent to do that, and sadly, this is a talent that Dr. Joseph lacks. There are long lists of notable people with whom Stokely had contact, but there is rarely a sense of what those relationships were like or of what effect they had on Stokely. The inner life is just not here. Dr. Joseph also has a very annoying habit of ending paragraphs with a sentence couched in the future conditional--In a few years, he would become..., By March, he would be well known, etc. Once again, publishers of America--I am talking to you: A good editor would have helped tremendously.Read more ›
Stokely finding his place is one of the themes Joseph teases out in this book. (As for those who say that Joseph gives no feel for Stokely the person, they are not reading very carefully.) With Stokely there is the internal, existential, struggle as well as the external, political, quest for identity. Stokely lived in dramatic times and was wrestling with many different and evolving ideas. Keep in mind: Stokely was a young man in his 20s when he was doing all of this. (What did you know about life or the world when you were 20-something? Be honest...)
While solid overall, the biggest shortcoming I see with the book is a lack of detail as to the historical antecedents of what becomes "Black Power." Black Power did not spring from Stokely's mind fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. While I realize that Joseph had a lot of ground to cover, attempting to encapsulate Stokely's entire life, but the book is rather short. I think a short chapter going into the intellectual history of Stokely's beliefs would not burden the text and would be very beneficial for the readers. (Maybe Joseph is assuming that the reader has already read his "Waiting 'til the Midnight Hour," where this history is discussed.)
Standing alone, this book is a solid biography. There are no great revelations here but the book does a great deal to fill in a rather large gap in the history when it comes to Stokely Carmichael. This is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in Black Freedom Studies.
Joseph, professor of history at Brandeis University, traces Carmichael’s youth in New York City among radical intellectuals. His convictions compelled the 19-year-old to board CORE’s 1961 Freedom Rides. Carmichael spent weeks in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm with a Who’s Who of movement soldiers: John Lewis, James Lawson, James Farmer, and more. Carmichael returned to Howard University that fall a “campus celebrity” and soon to Mississippi to join Bob Moses, SNCC’s humble icon of nonviolence who became his hero.
Carmichael also met heroic black Mississippians, he said, “who took us in, fed us, instructed and protected us, and ultimately civilized, educated and inspired the smart-assed college students.” One thing he learned from these homegrown activists was that sometimes democracy required shotguns. Never a holy believer in nonviolence, Carmichael saw it as a tactical necessity. He attained “legendary stature as an organizer,” fearless and sweet. An “organic intellectual,” in Antonio Gramsci’s phrase, Stokely called SNCC’s protests “the ageless inseparability of intellectual ferment and social ferment, of thought and action.”
By the end of Freedom Summer of 1964, the violence of white terrorists and the betrayals of white liberals had taught him how “racial terror simmered beneath popular national bromides extolling individual liberty and achievement.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of those books where you feel you are reading about a towering important figure
and a force of nature on the grass roots level that is so lacking these days. Read more
I just completed the reading of Stokely: A Life by Peniel Joseph. My thought, Peniel 's audience should find the book fascinating and an easy read. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Lana Jean Mitchell
A wonderful read on an often overlooked figure in the Civil Rights movement. A must read for anyone interested in Civil Rights and modern racism in America.Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
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