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W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and The American Century.

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and The American Century by David Levering Lewis Henry Holt & Co., October 2000, Price, ISBN 0-8050-2534-0

Du Bois is probably the most written about African American intellectual of the twentieth century. Countless books and articles have either praised or criticized, canonized or vilified Du Bois and his many theories. A new book in the flow of that continual discourse is Lewis' third, meticulously researched volume. Lewis interviewed over one hundred people on four continents. He also uses over one-hundred-and-seventeen pages of notes to explain the text which clocks in at over five hundred words itself--concentrating on the last forty-four years of Du Bois' life.

If all it took was in depth research to make a best seller, then this book would be in the top ten. However, one might ask if yet another book on Du Bois is what today's black reader is clamoring for; a recent library search turned up over 140 books already inked on the subject, including his own autobiography. Every few years researchers present previously unpublished works by Du Bois. With the real thing still being freshly printed, readers may wonder why they should get the information second-hand?

Still, Du Bois wrote great studies himself on other people, and I might argue that one of the greatest social commentators of the 20th century deserves such in-depth examination. Lewis' last book on Du Bois (Biography of a Race, 1868-1919, Henry Holt & Co., 1994) was a National Book Award finalist and won him a Pulitzer Prize. This book takes up where that one left off, with disillusioned black soldiers returning from World War One. It also covers Du Bois' thoughts on the Harlem Renaissance, the Pan African movement, the Communist Party, women's rights, and the Civil Rights Movement. Written in an almost clinical style, it is not for the casual Du Bois fan. But the serious Du Bois scholar will instantly want to sit up and take notice.

Anthony C. Davis is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune, and BET Weekend Magazine.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Davis, Anthony C.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:Black History--Black Now.
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