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Assata: An Autobiography (1987)

by Assata Shakur

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8371718,237 (4.34)16
On May 2, 1973, Black Panther Assata Shakur (aka JoAnne Chesimard) lay in a hospital, close to death, handcuffed to her bed, while local, state, and federal police attempted to question her about the shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that had claimed the life of a white state trooper. Long a target of J. Edgar Hoover's campaign to defame, infiltrate, and criminalize Black nationalist organizations and their leaders, Shakur was incarcerated for four years prior to her conviction on flimsy evidence in 1977 as an accomplice to murder. This intensely personal and political autobiography belies the fearsome image of JoAnne Chesimard long projected by the media and the state. With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. The result is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America that has already taken its place alongside The Autobiography of Malcolm X and the works of Maya Angelou. Two years after her conviction, Assata Shakur escaped from prison. She was given political asylum by Cuba, where she now resides.… (more)
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» See also 16 mentions

English (15)  Spanish (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This was an intense read, but one that is very important. It is something that people, especially Americans need to know about. I would recommend it to anyone. ( )
  queenofthebobs | Mar 23, 2020 |
Actually want to reread this as I read it as an undergrad.
  roniweb | May 30, 2019 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Assata Shakurprimary authorall editionscalculated
Davis, Angela Y.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hinds, Lennox S.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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