Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam

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9780802784223: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam

A biography of the African American who dreamed of a career as a violinist before joining the Nation of Islam and rising in its ranks, eventually becoming its leader

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Despite the title, this is a terse, impeccable history of the Nation of Islam, with emphasis in the last half to the role of Farrakhan in that organization and including his appearance at the Million Man March in October 1995. Haskin (with Kathleen Benson, Count Your Way Through Greece, p. 899) focuses less on Farrakhan than on the political aspects of his life, for which he provides background; thus, half of this carefully researched book traces the history of the Nation of Islam from its birth in the 1930s, through the assassination of Malcolm X, and on to the current leadership. The seeds of Farrakhan's anti- white sentiments were sown while he was a child; as he witnessed how economics, racial hatred, and lack of education further limited African-Americans from achieving true equality, his resentment blossomed. His rise through the Nation of Islam is cloudy, although Haskins is careful to document Farrakhan's anti-Semitism and shows its effect on Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign. Readers will also benefit from the examination of Farrakhan's rhetorical techniques: soft-spoken and diplomatic in interviews with mostly white audiences, screaming anti-white epithets in front of mostly black audiences (black-and-white photos allegedly capture such moments). Farrakhan is such an explosive figure that any objective coverage of him sounds like adulation; while Haskins exhibits great care in scholarship and use of language, Farrakhan remains inscrutable. (b&w photos, notes, further reading, index) (Biography. 12+) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Gr. 7^-12. A well-developed narrative focuses on militant slaves, early black nationalism, Marcus Garvy, the Nation of Islam (as compared to the religion of Islam), W. D. Fard, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and ultimately the enigma of Farrakhan. Because so much is secret about both Farrakhan and his organization, political and socio-economic factors give context to the movement and the man. Farrakhan manipulates the media to send his message to both "whitey" and African Americans that things in America had better change. But once Farrakhan recognizes the power of being in the mainstream, he changes: breaking with the Nation of Islam's stand on not voting; endorsing Jesse Jackson Jr. for president; qualifying his anti-Semitic statements; allowing himself to be interviewed on national television; and participating in the 1994 NAACP National Black Leadership Summit. The Million Man March is the culmination of Farrakhan's positioning for national influence. A good use of primary source material and quotes, relevant footnoting, and a solid bibliography enhance this well-organized book. We may not know all the facts about this militant or his organization, but his influence cannot be ignored, and his name will continue to be in the news. Karen Simonetti

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