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Basic Books
  • Hardcover
  • $29.99 / $34.50 CAN
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-465-01363-0
Daily Beast Best Books About the Volatile 60s

New York Times Book Review
“An insightful, highly engaging and fluently written biography”

Washington Post
“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.”

Boston Globe
“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.'”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“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.”

Daily Beast
“An unflinching look at an unflinching man.”

Counter-Punch
“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.”

Afro-American
“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.”

Amsterdam News
“A thought-provoking biography.... A brilliant bio with plenty of brio”

Publishers Weekly
“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.”

Kirkus
“Joseph showcases the brilliance of the man, his exceptional ideals and his pursuit of an equality that was years ahead of his time.”

Booklist
“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





Stokely

A Life

By Peniel E. Joseph

From an acclaimed civil rights historian, a definitive biography of Stokely Carmichael, the nonviolent activist turned black nationalist who spearheaded the Black Power movement in America.

Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for "Black Power" during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night. In Stokely, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph presents a groundbreaking biography of Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.

During the heroic early years of the civil rights movement, Carmichael and other civil rights activists advocated nonviolent measures, leading sit-ins, demonstrations, and voter registration efforts in the South that culminated with the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Still, Carmichael chafed at the slow progress of the civil rights movement and responded with Black Power, a movement that urged blacks to turn the rhetoric of freedom into a reality through whatever means necessary. Marked by the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., a wave of urban race riots, and the rise of the anti-war movement, the late 1960s heralded a dramatic shift in the tone of civil rights. Carmichael became the revolutionary icon for this new racial and political landscape, helping to organize the original Black Panther Party in Alabama and joining the iconic Black Panther Party for Self Defense that would galvanize frustrated African Americans and ignite a backlash among white Americans and the mainstream media. Yet at the age of twenty-seven, Carmichael made the abrupt decision to leave the United States, embracing a pan-African ideology and adopting the name of Kwame Ture, a move that baffled his supporters and made him something of an enigma until his death in 1998.

A nuanced and authoritative portrait, Stokely captures the life of the man whose uncompromising vision defined political radicalism and provoked a national reckoning on race and democracy.

Peniel E. Joseph is Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of the award-winning Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour, as well as editor of The Black Power Movement and Neighborhood Rebels. The recipient of fellowships from Harvard University's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute and its Charles Warren Center, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Ford Foundation, his essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Journal of American History, The Chronicle Review, Bookforum, and The American Historical Review.

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