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W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century 1919-1963 Hardcover – October 17, 2000
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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A pioneering sociologist, educator, essayist, activist, and political theorist, W.E.B. Du Bois was one of America's great intellectuals. This second volume by David Levering Lewis picks up where his Pulitzer Prize-winning W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race left off, chronicling his life from 1919 until his death in Ghana in 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington. "In the course of his long, turbulent career," Lewis writes, "W.E.B. Du Bois attempted virtually every possible solution to the problem of twentieth-century racism--scholarship, propaganda, integration, cultural and economic separatism, politics, international communism, expatriation, third world solidarity."
Lewis's lean and lyrical writing rescues Du Bois's stuffy, Afro-Victorian speech from historical documents, breathing life into his letters, memos, and numerous articles, both published and unpublished. He takes us through Du Bois's battles with the NAACP (which he cofounded); his ideological wars with "Back to Africa" nationalist Marcus Garvey; his many Pan-African conferences; and his tours of Africa, Japan, Russia, and China. He probes deeply into many of Du Bois's books, including Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil and Black Reconstruction, adding marvelous new insights into the neglected novel Dark Princess. Lewis also details Du Bois's relationships with friends and foes alike, including James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and Alain Locke, as well as his triumphs, such as his acquittal in the infamous trial in which he was accused of being an "unregistered foreign agent," and his defeats, notably his failure to publish his Encyclopedia Africana.
A foremost authority on this great man, Lewis summarizes Du Bois as having "an extraordinary mind of color in a racialized century ... possessed of a principled impatience with what he saw as the egregious failings of American democracy that drove him, decade by decade, to the paradox of defending totalitarianism in the service of a global idea of economic and social justice." A reading of this magnificent work is nothing less than a reading of modern black America. --Eugene Holley Jr.
From Publishers Weekly
This second (and final) volume of Lewis's critically praised biography of one of the founders of the contemporary black civil rights movement and a champion of human rights around the world is as astute and superbly written as the first. Here, in the years after WWI, Lewis finds Du BoisDalready established as one of the most controversial, powerful and persuasive voices of the movement through such books as The Souls of Black Folk and his editorship of the highly influential journal of the NAACP, CrisisDfaced with spiraling white violence against African-Americans as race riots and lynchings increase. Lewis concentrates on Du Bois's attempt to guide the movement through the increasingly precarious complexities of U.S. politics and culture as he explicates such diverse issues as Du Bois's commitment to feminism and women's rights, his dedication to Pan Africanism and his expanding roles as an official and unofficial foreign ambassador for the U.S. government, all of which are controversial both within and outside of the civil rights movement. Lewis is especially adroit at interpreting the complications of Du Bois's personal and emotional life, including his long, though not especially companionable, marriage to his wife, Nina, and his series of "parallel marriages" to other women. The biography is at its most politically and intellectually gripping when it details the tensions and interplay between the NAACP and the American Communist Party during the notorious Scottsboro trial, and later when Arthur Schlesinger Jr. red-baited the civil rights group in an infamous article in Life. While readers will need to read Lewis' first volume to fully appreciate this one, his superb command of the complexity of his subject and time make this a major work of American biography and history. Lewis's two volume biography is not only a must-read for those fascinated by African-American history, but also holds powerful crossover appeal for anyone interested in the racial conflicts at the heart of 20th century American history. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.