Florence H. Levinsohn Looking for Farrakhan

ISBN 13: 9781566631570

Looking for Farrakhan

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While the racial polarity over the O. J. Simpson trial was powerful and dramatic, there are far deeper and wider differences over Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. It is no exaggeration to say that since the Million Man March, Farrakhan has become perhaps the most respected and admired American black man among his fellow blacks—and the most feared and despised black man by whites in America. In her new book, Looking for Farrakhan, Florence Levinsohn offers a searching biographical portrait of the man behind the myth. Here is a man far more complex, far more dangerous than the one seen in ten-second sound bites on the evening news. While Ms. Levinsohn is unsparing in her descriptions of Farrakhan’s bigotry, she shows that he is a religious zealot who sees himself in a long tradition of black saviors, who sense white hostility everywhere—and is often right. She explores Farrakhan’s impact as an agent of anti-Semitism, and suggests that the root beliefs of Farrakhan and the Nation may illuminate some of the tensions now buried in white and black mutual anger. Looking for Farrakhan is a thoughtful, revealing appraisal of perhaps the most enigmatic figure on the American political scene.

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Review:

This impressionistic biography of Louis Farrakhan begins with the first back-to-Africa movements of the 19th century. In "Antecedents," Florence Hamlish Levinsohn surveys the many ways in which black Americans have sought to reject America and embrace Africa; she ends the summary with the Moorish Science Temple predecessors to the Nation of Islam (NOI). Levinsohn continues her search for Farrakhan in the history of the NOI, ending with the story of Louis Eugene Walcott, as Farrakhan was known before becoming a Muslim. She finally concludes that he is "the most influential man in the black world," and "a con artist, a charlatan, a demagogue, and an egomaniac." This is an important addition to the body of work about Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.

From the Back Cover:

In Looking for Farrakhan, Florence Levinsohn has written an unconventional biography. Starting from historical fact, her book is a meditation on the black experience in America that helped transform the young Eugene Walcott into Louis Farrakhan; on the circumstances that brought him to power as leader of the Nation of Islam; on the policies and programs of this curious but imposing organization; and, most of all, on Farrakhan himself. Ms. Levinsohn's thoughtful search for the man behind the myth is the product of a lifetime of reporting and writing on black life in America. With the eye of an accomplished journalist and the diligence of a bloodhound, she traces Farrakhan's rise from his boyhood as a West Indian in Boston - acolyte of his Episcopal church, top student, winning track star, talented violinist and later an accomplished popular singer, the Charmer - through his hidden anger and resentment to his leadership of the Nation and his role in the larger black community. Her portrait uncovers a religious zealot who sees himself in a long tradition of black saviors, who senses white hostility everywhere - and is often right. Along the way, Ms. Levinsohn considers the content of Farrakhan's character and the substance of his ideas. And she presents a man far more complex, far more dangerous than the one seen in ten-second sound bites on the evening news.

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Florence H. Levinsohn
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