2001 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A dazzling feat of scholarship performed with Lewis's customary grace of style." (The Washington Post Book World)
"Splendid. . . . A landmark of American scholarship. Lewis develops the most convincing portrayal ever written of Du Bois."--Michael R. Winston, The Washington Post
"Monumental. . . . A joy to read. A work of keen scholarship that will appeal to the general reader responsive to graceful, lucid prose by an author with an eye for ironic situations and complex emotions."--John Patrick Diggins, Los Angeles Times
"A stirring yet subtle portrait of a haughty intellectual colossus. Lewis again brings Du Bois to life with startling detail and judicious frankness."--Jack E. White, Time
"This second volume of Lewis's biography of Du Bois will undoubtedly become an instant classic and indispensable reading for anyone interested in the history of the twentieth century. The result of Lewis's prodigious research efforts is a magnificent reconstruction of the evolving contours of Du Bois's thought, his interactions with a host of black organizations and key political and intellectual figures, and his personal life."--Eric Amesen, Chicago Tribune
"I did not think it was possible for David Lewis to surpass what he had accomplished in the first volume of his Du Bois biography, but he has . . . . He confirms the view of many of us who believe that he is the finest American historian plying his craft today."--John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor of History Emeritus at Duke University
"A masterpiece of the biographer's craft. With this volume, David Levering Lewis has brought to magnificent completion his definitive biography of W.E.B. Du Bois. Lewis writes with consistent empathy, balance, and grace about one of the twentieth century's most complicated and controversial figures. A must-read for anyone seeking to understand the tortured history of race relations in the modern world."--David M. Kennedy, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University and author of Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize
This monumental biography--eight years in the research and writing--treats the early and middle phases of a long and intense career: a crucial fifty-year period that demonstrates how Du Bois changed forever the way Americans think about themselves.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 575-687) and index.
About the Author
David Levering Lewis
is the Martin Luther King Professor of History at Rutgers University and was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of Race, 1868-1919
received the Bancroft, Parkman, and Pulitzer prizes, and was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award.