Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party

Joshua Bloom, Author, Waldo E Martin Jr, Author
Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. Univ. of California, $34.95 (504p) ISBN 978-0-520-27185-2
Reviewed on: 11/12/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Paperback - 539 pages - 978-0-520-28222-3
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”Why did revolutionary black nationalism—and Black Power mobilization generally—become so influential in the late 1960s, and why did it unravel so disastrously in the 1970s?” Historians Bloom (collection editor of the Black Panther Newspaper Collection) and Martin (No Coward Soldiers) undertake the formidable task of a comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party and a theoretical analysis of “revolutionary ideologies” in the U.S. A prodigiously researched work, utilizing academic literature, personal memoir, and conversations with former Black Panther members and associates, the book offers a densely detailed account of the transformation of “a scrappy local organization” into “a major international political force.” While the authors’ primary concern is the “evolution of [Black Panther Party] political practices,” their vivid renderings of scene make this scholarly tome thoroughly accessible; a “you are there” tone adds immediacy to the ideological concerns underpinning Black Panther Party history: armed resistance, anti-imperialism, gender roles, the war in Vietnam and the draft, community service projects, and government repression. While the authors conclude that “there is no movement like the Panthers in the United State today because the political context is so different from that in the late 1960s,” they make comprehensible both the movement and the times. 50 b&w photos. (Jan.)
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