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Assata: an Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Assata: an Autobiography

by Assata Shakur

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Assata Shakur is an African American revolutionary currently living in exile in Cuba after escaping from an American prison. Her name's been in the news a bit lately because one of the arguments against the USA normalizing relations with Cuba is that they harbor terrorists, and when the the American right make this argument, Assata Shakur is usually the terrorist they are talking about. It's hard to know if she is guilty of the crime for which she was being held at the time of her escape, the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. She is a self-identified revolutionary and she does not (or did not at the time of writing her autobiography, anyway) disavow violence in service to the struggle to better the condition of oppressed people. At the same time, these were the bad old days of Cointelpro, the massive and ruthless FBI operation against a variety of domestic political groups including the largely successful infiltration and harassment of the Black Panthers (Assata had been a member). As a part of this program, Assata was charged with a number of crimes on the East Coast simply because they were committed by a black woman who might, more or less plausibly, have been her. She was tried for more than one robbery, murder, and kidnapping for which she was acquitted. Thus it is not hard to believe that her conviction for murder in the killing of the New Jersey trooper was tainted in a number of ways. The autobiography doesn't quite tell, and for obvious reasons there are no details of her escape (though several people were arrested and charged for taking part in it). Whether one agrees or not with the actions that Shakur (may have) committed or abetted it is hard to disagree with most of her analysis of the situation of black people in the USA and America's history of racism. It is sad to note that it seems as accurate today as ever--even with a black president. The book is a gripping read. The slang with which Assata peppers her prose and the loose rhythms with which she writes enliven the book, as does the structure: beginning the night of her arrest for the trooper's murder, and then bouncing between that night and its aftermath and her earlier life where we learn how she turned into the disciplined revolutionary she became.
  dcozy | Apr 23, 2015 |
Great read on her life, the black liberation movement and a voice for civil rights. I highly recommend. ( )
  GospelChick | Dec 29, 2014 |
great book if you are interested in the subject! ( )
  miketopper | Jul 15, 2013 |
This book is all about racism, and often it’s shocking. But this story of the government persecution of a Black Panther woman is also a book about endurance and strength. It blows my mind that Shakur survived. The book is honest, informative, historically relevant, occasionally polemic but never so much that it becomes boring. ( )
  astrologerjenny | Apr 25, 2013 |
just finished this and it was really well-written and compelling. ( )
  julierh | Apr 7, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Assata Shakurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, AngelaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hinds, Lennox S.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The author, formerly known as JoAnne Chesimard, relates the formative experiences of her youth that led her to a life of activism in Black nationalist organizations and, eventually, to prison

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