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A History of Pan-African Revolt

Originally published in England in 1938 (the same year as his magnum opus The Black Jacobins) and expanded in 1969, this work remains the classic account of global Black resistance. Robin D.G. Kelley’s substantial introduction contextualizes the work in the history and ferment of the times, and explores its ongoing relevance today.

A History of Pan-African Revolt is one of those rare books that continues to strike a chord of urgency, even half a century after it was first published. Time and time again, its lessons have proven to be valuable and relevant for understanding liberation movements in Africa and the diaspora. Each generation who has had the opportunity to read this small book finds new insights, new lessons, new visions for their own age…. No piece of literature can substitute for a crystal ball, and only religious fundamentalists believe that a book can provide comprehensive answers to all questions. But if nothing else, A History of Pan-African Revolt leaves us with two incontrovertible facts. First, as long as Black people are denied freedom, humanity and a decent standard of living, they will continue to revolt. Second, unless these revolts involve the ordinary masses and take place on their own terms, they have no hope of succeeding.” —Robin D.G. Kelley, from the Introduction

“I wish my readers to understand the history of Pan-African Revolt. They fought, they suffered—they are still fighting. Once we understand that, we can tackle our problems with the necessary mental equilibrium.” —C.L.R. James

Praise:

“Kudos for reissuing C.L.R. James’s pioneering work on Black resistance. Many brilliant embryonic ideas articulated in A History Of Pan-African Revolt twenty years later became the way to study Black social movements. Robin Kelley’s introduction superbly situates James and his thought in the world of Pan-African and Marxist intellectuals.”
—Sundiata Cha-Jua, Penn State University

“A mine of ideas advancing far ahead of its time.”
—Walter Rodney

“When one looks back over the last twenty years to those men who were most far-sighted, who first began to tease out the muddle of ideology in our times, who were at the same time Marxists with a hard theoretical basis, and close students of society, humanists with a tremendous response to and understanding of human culture, Comrade James is one of the first one thinks of.”
—E.P. Thompson

“C.L.R. James has arguably had a greater influence on the underlying thinking of independence movements in the West Indies and Africa than any living man.”
Sunday Times

About C.L.R. James:

In the West Indies, C.L.R. James is honored as one of the fathers of independence. In Britain he is feted as a historic pioneer of the black movement. He is generally regarded as one of the major figures in Pan-Africanism, and a leader in developing a current within Marxism that was democratic, revolutionary, and internationalist. His long life and impressive career played out in Trinidad, England, and America. For the last years of his life, he lived in south London and lectured widely on politics, Shakespeare, and other topics. He died there in 1989.

About Robin D.G. Kelley (introduction):

Robin D.G. Kelley is a professor of History and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His most recent book, Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original (Free Press), received several honors, including Best Book on Jazz from the Jazz Journalists Association and the Ambassador Award for Book of Special Distinction from the English Speaking Union. It was a finalist for PEN USA Literary Award. He’s the author of half a dozen other books, including Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Beacon Press), and (co-edited with Franklin Rosemont), Surrealism—Black, Brown and Beige: Writings and Images from Africa and the African Diaspora (University of Texas Press).

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