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The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
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The Souls of Black Folk (1903)

by W. E. B. Du Bois

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I put this off until I had seen the movie, 12 years a slave. Now, I'm in the middle of reading this, and I find it one of the most fair-minded, and well written books covering the era following the end of the Civil War. It is simply excellent! It's a emotional but not sentimental; extremely well-written.

Now that I've finished, I found myself deeply moved by the Chapter on the loss of his son and by his memories of working as a teacher in a one-room school. Powerful stuff!

This book is available as a free download. Just Google the title. ( )
  KyCharlie | Apr 3, 2017 |
W.E.B. Du Bois narrates his journeys of the South after the Emancipation of slavery. It tells of the systemic racism that was institutionalized during this time.

My professor at the University of Texas at Austin told me to read this after discussion of Booker T Washington's book, Up From Slavery. He said this gave a more accurate picture of the time. It was very eye-opening for me since I never studied this literature in my high school or college courses. As an education historian I used this book to make many connections about how African Americans were unfairly treated during the Reconstruction Era and beyond leading to current achievement gaps. It was a very dense book and took a lot of time to get through the content. My copy is full of highlighting, notes, and underlined pieces. I'm a better person for having read it! ( )
1 vote missbrandysue | Jul 26, 2016 |
A wonderful and true book. It is written in a strange, Victorian manner, which was probably the only way it could be published. But the stories of blacks in America are terrific and there is no denying that DuBois was something of a genius. His analysis of what the blacks gave to this country jibes with other books that I have read: music, clearing the land, and the Spirit.
He is kinder than I would be to the idiotic white people of the south. ( )
2 vote annbury | Jun 16, 2016 |
This feels like an Ur-text, for sociology, for identity studies, for African American history. It's like what Euclid is to every Geometry book written since. It's clear-sighted, and it's also very sad, to realize how much momentum has been lost, and how little has changed since Du Bois wrote this book. ( )
  poingu | Jan 23, 2016 |
This had some great writing and interesting history but was hard to digest in large doses. I see while I've always come across this work in sections or excerpts. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
W. E. B. Du Boisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hare, NathanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Poussaint, Alvin F.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

References to this work on external resources.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0486280411, Paperback)

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) is the greatest of African American intellectuals--a sociologist, historian, novelist, and activist whose astounding career spanned the nation's history from Reconstruction to the civil rights movement. Born in Massachusetts and educated at Fisk, Harvard, and the University of Berlin, Du Bois penned his epochal masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. It remains his most studied and popular work; its insights into Negro life at the turn of the 20th century still ring true.

With a dash of the Victorian and Enlightenment influences that peppered his impassioned yet formal prose, the book's largely autobiographical chapters take the reader through the momentous and moody maze of Afro-American life after the Emancipation Proclamation: from poverty, the neoslavery of the sharecropper, illiteracy, miseducation, and lynching, to the heights of humanity reached by the spiritual "sorrow songs" that birthed gospel and the blues. The most memorable passages are contained in "On Booker T. Washington and Others," where Du Bois criticizes his famous contemporary's rejection of higher education and accommodationist stance toward white racism: "Mr. Washington's programme practically accepts the alleged inferiority of the Negro races," he writes, further complaining that Washington's thinking "withdraws many of the high demands of Negroes as men and American citizens." The capstone of The Souls of Black Folk, though, is Du Bois' haunting, eloquent description of the concept of the black psyche's "double consciousness," which he described as "a peculiar sensation.... One ever feels this twoness--an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder." Thanks to W.E.B. Du Bois' commitment and foresight--and the intellectual excellence expressed in this timeless literary gem--black Americans can today look in the mirror and rejoice in their beautiful black, brown, and beige reflections. --Eugene Holley Jr.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:52 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

First published in 1903, this eloquent collection of essays exposed the magnitude of racism in our society. The book endures today as a classic document of American social and political history: a manifesto that has influenced generations with its transcendent vision for change.… (more)

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