W.E.B. DuBois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963

by David L. Lewis

Hardcover, 1993




New York : H. Holt, 1993-2000.


This monumental biography--eight years in the research and writing--treats the early and middle phases of a long and intense career: a crucial fifty-year period that demonstrates how Du Bois changed forever the way Americans think about themselves.

User reviews

LibraryThing member nickhoonaloon
I just don`t lead the sort of life that allows me to read books like this without interruption, so I`m going to review it in instalments.

Levering Lewis` approach is to provide a wealth of period detail to accompany his account of each stage of his subject`s life, presumably in an effort to paint a portrait of the age and not just the man.

In the early years, as young Willie Du Bois is growing up, the effect is stunning, and really does bring the picture to life.

As we progress, I`m not always convinced the effect is so well-judged. At times, we do seem to get sidetracked into looking at people and events of only indirect relevance. the author is a little inclined also to raise questions which even he acknowledges cannot be answered ! I have a friend who does that, and much though I like him, it always makesme want to hit him ! I don`t as yet want to hit David Levering Lewis, and I will certainly refrain from doing so.

In fairness, to Mr L, his aim seems to be to present Du Bois with all his complexiity, contradictions and quirks intact - quite a bit to go at there, I would think - as distinct from Manning Marable, who chose to emphasise a thread of consistency running through du Bois` thinking. I have sometimes felt with this book, that the more Mr L denies that consistency, the more it seems to appear. Having said that, I wouldn`t like to compare the two too much - it`s like two men doing different jobs, who can say which did his job the best ?

Will resume this review when I get the chance to read more (and when I`m less tired). So far, despite some reservations, I would rate this as, say 4 out of 5, so pretty good overall.
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