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Belafonte Recommended Reading (Pt.1)

Below you’ll find a list of recommended reading from Harry Belafonte which will be released in four parts over the next two months. We encourage the audience to engage in conversation around these titles via the Harry Belafonte Facebook page.

Harry Belafonte Reading List: Part 1 of 4:

1. The Wretched of the Earth


Frantz Fanon (1925-61) was a Martinique-born black psychiatrist and anticolonialist intellectual; The Wretched of the Earth is considered by many to be one of the canonical books on the worldwide black liberation struggles of the 1960s. Within a Marxist framework, using a cutting and nonsentimental writing style, Fanon draws upon his horrific experiences working in Algeria during its war of independence against France. He addresses the role of violence in decolonization and the challenges of political organization and the class collisions and questions of cultural hegemony in the creation and maintenance of a new country’s national consciousness. As Fanon eloquently writes, “[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.”

Although socialism has seemingly collapsed in the years since Fanon’s work was first published, there is much in his look into the political, racial, and social psyche of the ever-emerging Third World that still rings true at the cusp of a new century. –Eugene Holley, Jr.

2. King Era Trilogy
Parting The Waters, Pillar of Fire, At Canaan’s Edge

“This narrative history about the United States during the civil rights era became my major life’s work. Despite my plan to complete it within three years, the project consumed 24 years of wondrous obsession for me between 1982 and 2006.” – Taylor Branch

3. The Ghost

Displaying enviable versatility, Harris, who first achieved acclaim with his alternative history, Fatherland, and who more recently showed his mastery of the historical novel in Pompeii, hits one out of the park with this dark paranoid thriller. Former British prime minister Adam Lang (clearly modelled on Tony Blair) is up against a firm deadline to submit his memoirs to his publisher, and the project is dangerously derailed when his aide and collaborator, Michael McAra, perishes in a ferry accident off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. To salvage the book, a professional ghostwriter is hired to whip the manuscript into shape, but the unnamed writer soon finds that separating truth from fiction in Lang’s recollections a challenge. The stakes rise when Lang is accused of war crimes for authorizing the abduction of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, who then ended up in the CIA’s merciless hands. As the new writer probes deeper, he uncovers evidence that his predecessor’s death may have been a homicide. Harris nicely leavens his cynical tale with gallows humor, and even readers who anticipate the plot’s final twist will admire the author’s artistry in creating an intelligent page-turner that tackles serious issues.

4. Das Kapital

“Das Kapital”, Karl Marx’s masterwork, is the book that above all others formed the twentieth century. From Kapital sprung the economic and political systems that in our time dominated half the earth and for half a century kept the world on the brink of war. Even today, one billion Chinese remain in the power of the Marxist system. Yet this important and powerful work has been passed over by many readers frustrated by Marx’s difficult style and his preoccupation with nineteenth-century events of little relevance to today’s reader. Serge Levitsky presents a new revised version of this masterpiece, carefully translated for the modern reader and abridged to emphasize the political and philosophical core of Marx’s work, while trimming away much that is now unimportant. Here then is a fresh and highly readable version of a work whose ideas have influenced the lives of nearly every person alive today.

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