❮PDF / Epub❯ ☉ W.E.B. Dubois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919 ✩ Author David Levering Lewis – Heartforum.co



10 thoughts on “W.E.B. Dubois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919

  1. says:

    This is a biography that actually merits the magisterial among its blurbs, the kind of book that shows biography second only to the novel for difficulty of organization and effect As epigraph to the first of the five volumes he would devote to the life of Henry James, Leon Edel quoted a line from his subject s rare foray into biography William Wet Story and His Friends, 1903 To live other people s lives is nothing unless we live over their perceptions, live over the growth, the change, the varying intensity of the same since it was by these things they themselves lived.Du Bois began his intellectual life in the 1870s, a prodigious New England preteen saving odd job money to buy Macaulay s History of England on an installment plan and died in 1963, a Pan Africanist Marxist with a villa in Accra, capital of newly independent Ghana, and a chauffeured limousine provided by the Soviet embassy So yeah, Lewis had a lot of ground to cover, plenty of change to live over Du Bois requires two 500 page volumes this is the first in which Lewis synchronizes his subject s restless ninety five years with an account of the turbulent modernity he inhabited and strove so variously to interpret This book is full of fascinating microhistories Every page is dense, chewy with a trenchant portrait or ideological summary or sketch of socio political context the history of the United States from Andrew Johnson to Lyndon Johnson, from the Civil War in which Du Bois s father fought to the Vietnam War he predicted and denounced a decade in advance imperialism, Gilded Age economics, race and class dynamics, assimilation and separatism, Eurocentrism and Afrocentrism, Bismarck and N gritude, German philosophy, Romantic Nationalism, and every stripe of social thought In some people egoism is a revelation of spirit Du Bois life is a political and intellectual history of the twentieth century Things I learned, stuff I was prompted to recall, random notes 1 At Harvard Du Bois read The Critique of Pure Reason with Santayana not under him, with him Just hangin out 2 At Harvard Du Bois was a star student of William James, who sent The Souls of Black Folk to Henry, who admired it and invited Du Bois to conclude his 1909 bicycle tour of the Lake District with a visit to Rye House They never did meet But James Santayana is the missed friendship of American Letters.3 After former U.S president Rutherford B Hayes publicly questioned the relevance of higher education to blacks, the undergraduate Du Bois wrote him a stern letter in which he told Hayes that he owed an apology to the Negro People This was particularly egregious of Hayes, who at the time was trustee of a black college fund, and particularly ballsy of Du Bois, whose application to that same fund he wanted a doctorate from a German university Herr doktor, the prestigious credential of the era was pending Hayes was impressed and Du Bois got his grant Du Bois studied political economy at the University of Berlin, wrote a dissertation comparing the black American peasantry with the Eastern European variety drank in beer gardens, romanced shop girls, hiked throughout Austra Hungary, thrilled at Prussian military parades, and affected the upturned points of Wilhelmine mustache 4 Du Bois was labeled a dangerous man by another president, Teddy Roosevelt, for his freewheeling, militant editorship of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis A Record of the Darker Races I love that subtitle Du Bois ran plenty of pride instilling Nubian images on the cover my aunt has several sets of Sphinx head bookends When the Justice Department formed its Bureau of Investigation in 1908, Du Bois was an inaugural dossier, henceforth a rite of passage for African American leaders The white establishment was quite dismayed that by 1914 many American blacks had turned away from the earthy, humble, accommodating, vo tech vice principal Booker T Washington, to listen at the feet of this sociologist turned propagandist, a colleague of Weber and Durkheim who could provoke like an old school Abolitionist, who had put aside brilliant historical work and foundational contributions to the new sociology to rake American pretentions up and down, in sermonic editorials of a grandly indignant style, a lynchable sass When it was not hurling thunderbolts, The Crisis dripped acid, issue after issue Mordant observations and gratuitous asides filled its pages that needled even whites on the NAACP board and made Du Bois a hero to blacks, who named children, learned societies and even a brand of cigars after him Du Bois died the night before the March on Washington when Sidney Poitier and James Baldwin, standing around a hotel lobby, got the news that the Old Man is dead, they didn t need to be told who he was 5 Booker T Washington s power was a function of educational funding In the absence of a federal Dept of Education, national funding for higher education was in the hands of robber baron philanthropies Washington had the philanthropic ear and whispered that blacks were rooted to the peasant soil of the south, uninterested in demanding rights that would upset the southern caste system, or in education beyond that of mechanics and menials, carpenters and cooks Black liberal arts colleges, like Du Bois s alma mater Fisk and periodic hub Atlanta University, were left to wither on the vine the trustees of the Rockefeller and Carnegie education monies wanted to see such institutions literally perish.6 Washington s lackeydom extended throughout the black press he attempted to disrupt the forming of NAACP, then a cutting edge attempt at interracial civil rights action, by planting lurid news stories about the fraternization of black men and white women in the ranks of the new organization, a specter he thought sure to enrage popular sentiment Washington could also advance or quash federal civil service appointments of blacks due to his pull with Republican administrations, and was a pretty smooth bureaucratic operator, buying off potential dissenters with plum posts although to his credit he also secretly funded early legal efforts against the imposition of Jim Crow secret because his white backers would not have been cool with that.7 At philanthropic conclaves Washington would warm up the crowd with darkie jokes and savage lampoons of citified college negroes That ridicule still echoes I wonder if he used a super nerdy white voice when doing Du Bois.8 Washington is the quintessence of Uncle Tomism, a representative man of southern caste Uncle Toms don t like whites, as is commonly thought, but fear and distrust them, and so resort to obsequious accommodation as a way of staying out of the cross hairs They fawn and flatter but are extremely angry Southern s backed up by the rope, the pyre, the castrating blade exacted a degree of Tomism from all blacks, especially men Washington s relevance waned when it became clear that the progress of the race was in the north His assault by a street tough while out whoring, and his incapacitation and slow death from what looked like syphilis, weakened his standing also 9 Du Bois and Jack Johnson show pride and egoism in heroic, visionary dimensions They exemplify unintimidated blackness at the post emancipation high noon of white supremacy The love of beat downs and the poses of a frosty hauteur never looked so good And both were sharp dressers 10 Newly arrived, cash strapped Vladimir Nabokov did a lot of peripatetic lecturing in the early 1940s, and was a great favorite at black colleges in the south He always brought down the house by declaring Pushkin the striking example of what mankind can achieve when the races are allowed to freely mingle In the fall of 1942 he met Du Bois and recorded his impression in a letter to Edmund Wilson Celebrated Negro scholar and organizer 70 years old, but looks 50 Dusky face, grizzled goatee, nice wrinkles, big ears prodigiously like a White Russian General in mufti played sympathetically by Emil Jannings Piebald hands Brilliant talker, with an old world touch. Tr s gentilhomme Smokes special Turkish cigarettes Charming and distinguished in other, important, ways Told me that when he went to England he was listed as Colonel on the Channel boat, because his name bore the addition Col on his passport.


  2. says:

    I didn t appreciate this book at first I found Lewis s style a little too wordy But Du Bois was a giant of ideas and study, appetites, activity and accomplishment and in these hands he s found expression equal to his engulfing vitality It s small wonder both volumes won the Pulitzer And here s one reason why From his exegesis on DuBois s classic The Souls of Black Folk Had Du Bois left double consciousness in this epiphenomenal limbo as a sort of non ego or psychic negative pole the partial legacy of Souls would have been perpetual, devastated psychic passivity But Du Bois intended the divided self to be a phenomenon that was spiritually and socially evolving one that would define itself through struggle and attain self conscious manhood through strife The German influences are unmistakable with their suggestion of materializing spirit and dialectical struggle, the whole surging process coming to concretion in das Volk a mighty nation with a unique soul It is as though the voices of Schopenhauer and Sojourner Truth were blended Further Du Bois s concept of racial twoness at the beginning of the twentieth century was profoundly radical With millions of Europeans arriving from religious and cultural backgrounds strikingly dissimilar to earlier immigrant infusions..Du Bois was a decade ahead of the generation of mainstream younger artists and writers who would express their disenchantment with the Anglo Saxon cultural paradigm by celebrating immigrants and workers, mounting scandal raising art shows, launching iconoclastic little magazines, and clamoring for social revolution Dope And let the church say Amen.


  3. says:

    Du Bois was always a name I had heard of and wanted to learn of his life This first volume of this epic bio was truly a fascinating book I had no idea of the animosity that existed between Du Bois and Booker T Washington and how this complex relationship helped form modern racial theory for good and bad Also, I never knew how African Americans were so impacted by World War I in ways that affected their livelihoods globally, both by racism at home and abroad Now, on to the second volume


  4. says:

    When Wikipedia featured their article on the Lynching of Jesse Washington it reminded me that I had read Du Bois classic The Souls of Black Folk and the Pulitzer prize winning biography of its author s early years quite a few years ago Both of these books are foundational readings bringing to light the struggle of black s in America after the civil war Many would rate these books with 5 stars and perhaps I should as well However, I haven t done so primarily because I had all but forgotten reading them some five years ago and thus not having the lasting impression that a top rated book should have.


  5. says:

    I hope my local library has part II, because as thick as this book is, I felt kind of unfulfilled when I came to the end and ran out out of proper Du Bois mayhem.Fascinating biography of a real social justice pioneer, but keep in mind that you will probably need to have a dictionary handy while you read this Lewis has a huge vocabulary, and he puts in quite a few recondite terms that you don t see that much I probably ended up looking about 20 words,at the very least.


  6. says:

    This book is a bear The detail is beyond anything I could have imagined I wasn t up to the challenge and had to put it down halfway through Really great discussion on the tensions between the Washington camp and those in DuBois s It is hard to imagine this is ONLY part 1.


  7. says:

    I found it really fascinating and tremendously sad with regard to the way African Americans have been treated ever since their ancestors were taken from their homelands W.E.B Du Bois was an incredibly gifted man who worked tirelessly to help his people achieve real equality and died just before the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s was passed We fool ourselves as Americans that our nation was founded on principles of freedom and liberty it was, but only if you were white, male and well to do Definitely worth reading.


  8. says:

    I finally got around to this book given to me by my high school history teacher on graduation just in time for Black History Month I knew very little about DuBois prior to reading these 600 pages on only the first half of his life The biography covered a difficult time in America s history 1868 1919 that I hadn t covered before This is a meticulously researched book that s dense at times, but still quite an enjoyable read.


  9. says:

    Lewis leaves no rock unturned in his biography of this great pillar of the academy DuBois is undoubtedly one of America s foremost scholars.


  10. says:

    This Is A Brilliant Book.


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