Cover image for W.E.B. Du Bois : the fight for equality and the American century, 1919-1963
W.E.B. Du Bois : the fight for equality and the American century, 1919-1963
Publication Information:
New York : John Macrae Book, Henry Holt and Company, c2000.
Physical Description:
xiv, 735 p. : illustrations (photographs)


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 921 DUBOIS 1 1

On Order



The second volume of the Pulitzer Prize--winning biography that "The Washington Post" hailed as "an engrossing masterpiece"
Charismatic, singularly determined, and controversial, W.E.B. Du Bois was a historian, novelist, editor, sociologist, founder of the NAACP, advocate of women's rights, and the premier architect of the Civil Rights movement. His hypnotic voice thunders out of David Levering Lewis's monumental biography like a locomotive under full steam.
This second volume of what is already a classic work begins with the triumphal return from WWI of African American veterans to the shattering reality of racism and lynching even as America discovers the New Negro of literature and art. In stunning detail, Lewis chronicles the little-known political agenda behind the Harlem Renaissance and Du Bois's relentless fight for equality and justice, including his steadfast refusal to allow whites to interpret the aspirations of black America. Seared by the rejection of terrified liberals and the black bourgeoisie during the Communist witch-hunts, Du Bois ended his days in uncompromising exile in newly independent Ghana. In re-creating the turbulent times in which he lived and fought, Lewis restores the inspiring and famed Du Bois to his central place in American history.

Author Notes

David Levering Lewis is the Martin Luther King Professor of History at Rutgers University & was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. "W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919" received the Bancroft, Parkman, & Pulitzer prizes, & was a finalist for the National Book Award & National Book Critics Circle Award. He also wrote "W.E.B. Du Bois: A Reader."

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This second (and final) volume of Lewis's critically praised biography of one of the founders of the contemporary black civil rights movement and a champion of human rights around the world is as astute and superbly written as the first. Here, in the years after WWI, Lewis finds Du BoisDalready established as one of the most controversial, powerful and persuasive voices of the movement through such books as The Souls of Black Folk and his editorship of the highly influential journal of the NAACP, CrisisDfaced with spiraling white violence against African-Americans as race riots and lynchings increase. Lewis concentrates on Du Bois's attempt to guide the movement through the increasingly precarious complexities of U.S. politics and culture as he explicates such diverse issues as Du Bois's commitment to feminism and women's rights, his dedication to Pan Africanism and his expanding roles as an official and unofficial foreign ambassador for the U.S. government, all of which are controversial both within and outside of the civil rights movement. Lewis is especially adroit at interpreting the complications of Du Bois's personal and emotional life, including his long, though not especially companionable, marriage to his wife, Nina, and his series of "parallel marriages" to other women. The biography is at its most politically and intellectually gripping when it details the tensions and interplay between the NAACP and the American Communist Party during the notorious Scottsboro trial, and later when Arthur Schlesinger Jr. red-baited the civil rights group in an infamous article in Life. While readers will need to read Lewis' first volume to fully appreciate this one, his superb command of the complexity of his subject and time make this a major work of American biography and history. Lewis's two volume biography is not only a must-read for those fascinated by African-American history, but also holds powerful crossover appeal for anyone interested in the racial conflicts at the heart of 20th century American history. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

In the opening pages of the second and final volume of Lewis' masterful biography of the great African American scholar, intellectual, writer, and leader, World War I has ended and Du Bois, at age 52, is hard at work as the distinguished founding editor of the vastly influential journal of opinion, The Crisis, which, as Lewis reminds the reader, had made Du Bois' name familiar in nearly every black household in the country. Furthermore, as most people believed at the time, both black and white, Du Bois was the NAACP. But just like earlier clashes with Booker T. Washington over their differing philosophies of black advancement, Du Bois now stood in conflict with Marcus Garvey, the back-to-Africa proponent. As for himself, Du Bois' international involvement in black issues took the form of participation in the Pan-African movement, which espoused the solidarity of all black people everywhere. As the reader witnesses, Du Bois didn't become any less inflexible in his principles and opinions as he got older. One of the most informative aspects of Lewis' highly perceptive account of this, the second half of Du Bois' life, is his discussion of Du Bois' reactions to and participation in the Harlem Renaissance, the black arts movement centered in Harlem from the 1920s to the 1940s. As time passed, Du Bois became a "walking institution," but he also gravitated toward communism, officially joining the Communist Party late in his life--in fact, on his way to spend his last days away from the U.S. in the African country of Ghana. Lewis does not neglect his subject's personal life, and the result is a well-rounded picture of an extremely consequential figure. --Brad Hooper

Kirkus Review

Picking up where he left off seven years ago, Lewis ( The Race to Fashoda , 1988, etc.) continues his authoritative biography of the African-American intellectual and activist William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963). This second volume begins when Du Bois, at 50, was already a living legend—the editor in chief of Crisis (the journal of the NAACP), a pioneer in sociology, a powerful critic, and a tireless agitator for human rights. The author steadily guides us through the many peaks and valleys of Du Bois’s last 45 years. Over the course of his 25 at Crisis , Du Bois struggled against Marcus Garvey’s black Zionism, sowed the seeds of his own Afro-centrism, worked to establish a Pan-African Congress, and scanned for political significance in the artistic explosion of the Harlem Renaissance (to his dismay, he found none)—all the while creating as many enemies (through his irascibility) as friends. Personal politics eventually led Du Bois away from the NAACP and back to academia, where (from his post at Atlanta University) he became more radical and no less outspoken. He devoured Marx, rethought his dogma on the Talented Tenth, and published Black Reconstruction in America , a masterwork of American history. Within ten years, pushed out of Atlanta through disagreements with the university president, Du Bois returned to the NAACP no less energetic and far more controversial for his unrepentant socialist beliefs. These beliefs, during the Cold War years, made him too radical for many of those who once revered his every word. He died, active and exiled, in Ghana at 95. A life of letters and agitation, masterfully synthesized by Lewis.

Library Journal Review

The first volume of this work won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize. This second volume ranges from the Harlem Renaissance to the witch hunts of the 1950s, which led to Du Bois's self-exile in Ghana. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 The Reason Whyp. 1
2 Du Bois and Garvey: Two "Pan-Africas"p. 37
3 On Being Crazy and Somewhat Deviousp. 85
4 Rearranging Ethiopia Abroad and at Homep. 118
5 Civil Rights by Copyrightp. 153
6 Bolsheviks and Dark Princessesp. 183
7 The Possibility of Democracy in Americap. 229
8 Holding on, Amorously and Angrilyp. 266
9 A New Racial Philosophyp. 302
10 Atlanta: Black Reconstruction and Casanova Unboundp. 349
11 Dictatorships Compared: Germany, Russia, China, Japanp. 388
12 Atlanta: the Politics of Knowledgep. 422
13 Atlanta: Soldiering onp. 454
14 Against the Grain: From the NAACP to the Far Leftp. 496
15 Exeuntp. 554
Persons Interviewedp. 573
Notesp. 575
Indexp. 689