W. E. B. Du Bois: A Reader

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Macmillan, Feb 15, 1995 - History - 801 pages
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Even as the lunch counters were being liberated in the South, W.E.B. Du Bois predicted the "... deepening class conflict within black America and superficial economic improvement at best in the lot of the great majority of black people." Always an utterer of difficult and unpopular truths, Du Bois's writing still has the ring of prophecy come true. "The inflexible truth he embraced was that, just as Africans in the United States 'under the corporate rule of monopolized wealth ... will be confined to the lowest wage group,' so the peoples of the developing world faced subordination in the global scheme of things capitalist." The long span of Du Bois's remarkable life (95 years) embodied the essence of African American dilemmas, from the early 1870s and post-Reconstruction to the early 1960s' civil rights revolution. Honored primarily for his enormous breakthroughs in black scholarship, urban sociology, and civil rights, Du Bois also paradoxically "... espoused racial and political beliefs of such variety and seeming contradiction as to bewilder and alienate as many Americans, black and white, as he inspired or converted." Marxism, in his old age, would supersede civil liberties as his ideological foundation. In his concentrated but vastly informative introduction, David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of W.E.B. Du Bois, posits four career turning points that shaped this highly charged political life--from the disputes between Du Bois and Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey to the New York-NAACP years (1934) and the internal rift caused by Du Bois's fearless denunciations to the halls of academe to a run for the U.S. Senate at the age of 82. His directorship of the Peace Information Center (PIC), which advocated nuclear disarmament, would get him declared a foreign agent. Turning to communism, even as Khrushchev disclosed the Stalin-era crimes and Soviet atrocities, he exiled himself to West Africa. The timing seemed ironic. The American civil rights revolution was just gathering force. Organized under 15 headings to reflect the philosophical shifts and changes in a long and contradictory life, each section is introduced by Lewis with commentary on where Du Bois stood historically in relation to issues of race and, where appropriate, elucidating on the issues. Lewis's selections from the Du Bois opus arise from a vast and confident knowledge.

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W.E.B. DU BOIS: A Reader

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W.E.B. Du Bois lived nearly a century, from 1868 to 1963. It was a century of radical transformation in the status of blacks in the US, and Du Bois himself was at the forefront of the struggle for ... Read full review

W. E. B. Du Bois: a reader

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

In his introduction to this anthology of Du Bois's writings, editor Lewis (W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919, LJ 11/1/93) continues to offer insights into the political life of a man ... Read full review


Address to the Country 367
Jefferson Davis as a Representative of Civilization
To the Nations of the World 639
Of the Meaning of Progress
The Negro Problems

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About the author (1995)

David Levering Lewis is the Martin Luther King Jr., University Professor in the history department at Rutgers University. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Woodrow Wilson International Center, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Humanities Center, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Educated at Fisk and Columbia universities and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Lewis is the author of several acclaimed books, including King: A Biography, When Harlem Was in Vogue, The Race to Fashoda, and his two-volume Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of W.E.B. Du Bois. He and his wife live in Manhattan.