Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Author, activist, founder of the NAACP, and scholar, Du Bois (1868-1963) stands as one of the dominant figures of the 20th century. While other biographers have offered parts of the legend, Lewis, a professor at Rutgers University and the author of When Harlem Was in Vogue (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1989), presents a whole. He has deftly plumbed the life and works of Du Bois during the first half of his life, fixing them in an ideological landscape that yields new perspectives on Du Bois's character and the composition and meaning of his writings. In lustrous prose that relies on masterful, exhaustive research, Lewis offers a penetrating psychological examination that reveals the contradictions, paradoxes, and psychosexual energies of a virtually fatherless, self-created intellectual battling despair and self-doubt while confronting how the world was thinking about race. This treasure belongs in every collection. Highly recommended. See also ``W.E.B. Du Bois: A Century of Conscience,'' LJ 8/93, p. 122-123, and ``African Americans in the Spotlight,'' p. 118-124, this issue; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/93.--Ed.-- Thomas J. Davis, Univ. at Buffalo, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
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This rich, masterful biography covers the first half of the complex life and abundant career of scholar/activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963), whose work both redefined the history of race relations and spurred the 20th-century civil rights movement. Drawing on a wealth of sources, including critical readings of Du Bois's memoirs, which he ``retouched . . . to produce the desired image of impregnable racial pride,'' Lewis advances the narrative with grace and energy. He traces the growth of Du Bois's racial identity in his Massachusetts hometown, Great Barrington, his ``safe harbor'' at black Fisk University and studies at Harvard under philosophers like William James and George Santayana. Lewis finds the roots of Du Bois's idea that the ``Talented Tenth'' should lead blacks in a commencement sermon by a black priest at Wilberforce University in Ohio, where Du Bois had his first faculty job. Lewis ( When Harlem Was in Vogue ) thoroughly explains Du Bois's major ideas, such as his view that black Americans faced a ``double consciousness'' and his analysis of the black community's class structure in The Philadelphia Negro. Even more compelling is the author's description of how Du Bois, the man of ``incorrigible candor'' who founded the NAACP, clashed for years with Booker T. Washington, the 19th century's ``Great Accommodator,'' whom he succeeded as the preeminent voice of black Americans. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

YA-More than a biography of an illustrious man, this first volume in a projected series is truly a history of the African-American experience. The first 50 years of DuBois's life are detailed, not only on a personal level but also in the context of American history. This exhaustive study includes an in-depth analysis of the civil rights movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The inner struggles and those between African-Americans make for fascinating reading, especially the clashes in philosophy between DuBois and Booker T. Washington. This is a major reference work, a tribute not only to a man who was dedicated to the advancement of his race, but also a marvelous account of the staggering problems and proposed solutions of the early civil rights movement. A magnificent resource.-Pat Royal, Crossland High School, Camp Springs, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Lewis's study promises to be the most comprehensive biography of DuBois yet written. The author's research is massive--99 collections in 28 archives on three continents. Lewis provides background and details not only for Dubois's life but also for all those people (some 150 in particular) and institutions that shaped his milieus. Arrogant, aloof, yet passionately involved with the lives of African Americans, DuBois was a complex man whose autobiographical writing blended myth with experience. Born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, he died in 1963 in Accra, Ghana, where he lived in exile during his final years, alienated from the US. Volume 1 of Lewis's work begins with a sociocultural description of the setting into which DuBois was born and follows his life through the 1919 Pan-African Congress in Paris. Lewis clearly shows the development of DuBois's political consciousness as well as documenting his professional growth and publications. One of his books, The Philadelphia Negro (1899), was the first sociological study of African American life. Lewis also gives major attention to the genesis of the conflict between DuBois and Booker T. Washington, whose accomodationist policies were comfortably nonthreatening to white hegemony. The volume includes 16 pages of photographs, 120 pages of notes, and a selected bibliography of DuBois's writings. A required acquisition for all social science and African American collections. All levels. H. M. MacLam; Choice