Synopses & Reviews
and#147;Finally! A book that clarifies the history of our movement, our aspirations, our struggles, and the bitter challenges we faced. This is a profoundly important and revealing work. Everyone who lived through these events, anyone who wants to understand the Black Panther Party, and especially the younger generations striving to shape the future, must read this book!and#8221;and#151;Bobby Seale, Chairman, Black Panther Party
and#147;This is the definitive history of one of the great revolutionary organizations in the history of this country. In this age of the Occupy Movement, let us learn deep democratic lessons and strong anti-imperial conclusions from this magisterial book!and#8221;and#151;Cornel West, author of Race Matters
and#147;This meticulously researched history explores the combination of revolutionary commitment and historical circumstance that enabled the emergence of the Black Panther Party. Because they do not shy away from the contradictions that animated this movement, Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin pose crucial questions about the genesis, rise, and decline of the BPP that are as relevant to young generations of activists as they are to those who came of age during that era.and#8221; and#151;Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness, University of California, Santa Cruz
and#147;In a stunning historical account, Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin map the complex trajectory of the ideology and practice of the Black Panther Party. Going beyond merely chronicling and#145;what happened,and#8217; the authors situate the rise and fall of the Panthers within the prevailing, and constantly shifting, political climate at home and abroad. Much has been written about the Party, but Black against Empire is the definitive history of the Panthersand#151;one that helps us rethink the very meaning of a revolutionary movement.and#8221;and#151;Michael Omi, co-author of Racial Formation in the United States
and#147;As important as the Black Panthers were to the evolution of black power, the African American freedom struggle, and, indeed, the sixties as a whole, scholarship on the group has been surprisingly thin and all too often polemical. Certainly no definitive scholarly account of the Panthers has been produced to date, or rather had been produced to date. Bloom and Martin can now lay claim to that honor. This is, by a wide margin, the most detailed, analytically sophisticated, and balanced account of the organization yet written. Anyone who hopes to understand the group and its impact on American culture and politics will need to read this book.and#8221;and#151;Doug McAdam, author of Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930-1970
and#147;This is the book weand#8217;ve all been waiting for: the first complete history of the Black Panther Party, devoid of the hype, the nonsense, the one-dimensional heroes and villains, the myths, or the tunnel vision that has limited scholarly and popular treatments across the ideological spectrum. Bloom and Martinand#8217;s riveting, nuanced, and highly original account revises our understanding of the partyand#8217;s size, scope, ideology, and political complexity, and offers the most compelling explanations for its ebbs and flows and ultimate demise. Moreover, they reveal with spectacular clarity that the Partyand#8217;s primary target was not just police brutality or urban poverty or white supremacy but U.S. Empire in all of its manifestations.and#8221;and#151;Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
and#147;Black against Empire puts the Black Panthers in dialogue with the varieties of political unrest across the country. Through a fresh analytical framework that helps us understand the revolutionary fervor of the 1960s, Bloom and Martin make clear that the Panthers were not an aberration or figment of the popular imaginary. They were the vanguard among black people seeking a way out of nowhere.and#8221;and#151;Jane Rhodes, author of Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon
and#147;The remarkable history of the Black Panther Partyand#151;battles with the police, its repression at the hands of the FBI, its breakfast-for-children and sickle-cell anemia programs, its ability to distribute 100,000 newspapers by hand each weekand#151;is in danger of being blotted from memory, or distorted to demonize them, while others try to preserve only a glorified legacy. This history by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, based mainly on historical documents, is remarkable in the scope of its narrative and attention to detail. As one who lived through the Panther era, I believe this book should become a standard historical work for years to come.and#8221; and#151;Tom Hayden, author of The Long Sixties: From 1960 to Barack Obama
and#147;Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., have written the first comprehensive political history of the Black Panther Party. They present an unvarnished, judicious treatment of a much revered, much maligned, and widely misunderstood revolutionary organization leading the charge for and#145;Black Powerand#8217; in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They provide persuasive answers to questions about the Partyand#8217;s rise and fall that others have failed to fully address. All other scholars will henceforth have to grapple with their substantial findings. General readers will find it compelling too.and#8221; and#151;Tera Hunter, Professor of History and African American Studies, Princeton University
"An essential, deeply researched, and insightful studyand#151;the best so farand#151;of the complex history, inner workings, and conflicted legacy of the Black Panther Party as it waged its relentless battle for human rights and racial dignity in the streets of urban America.and#8221; and#151;Leon F. Litwack, President, Organization of American Historians
and#147;Bloom and Martin bring to light an important chapter in American history. They carefully mine the archival data to give us an account of the rise of the Black Panther Party, of its successes and the shoals of American politics on which it fractured. In the process they give full credit to the strategic agency of the remarkable revolutionaries at the center of the story.and#8221; and#151;Frances Fox Piven, President, American Sociological Association
and#8220;Vivid renderings of scene make this scholarly tome thoroughly accessible; a and#8220;you are thereand#8221; tone adds immediacy to the ideological concerns underpinning Black Panther Party history. . . . [the authors] make comprehensible both the movement and the times.and#8221; STARRED REVIEW
and#8220;Twelve years of archival research helped the authors produce this first comprehensive book on the Black Panther Party, its members, its leaders, and its resistance to the politics of the American government.and#8221;
"Lets you understand what happened--and why."--American History
and#8220;There have been at least a half dozen books and films by former Panthers, or about them, over the last decade. and#8216;Black Against Empire,and#8217; however, is unique among them in the scope and depth of its scholarship.and#8221;
and#8220;A comprehensive and compelling history of the Black Panther Party . . . it is the book I would recommend to anyone wanting to read just one book about the Black Panthers.and#8221;
“Lets you understand what happened—and why.” Los Angeles Magazine
and#8220;An account that should be called, above everything else, and#8216;definitive.and#8217; . . . A downright scientific analysis of a subject that leaves most readers understandably unable to stay neutral.and#8221;
and#8220;Black against Empire breaks new scholarly ground in providing the first comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party.and#8221;
and#8220;A welcome addition to the literature about the Oakland-born organization that spread across the country like a prairie fire in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968 and that altered the consciousness of African Americans.and#8221;
and#8220;What Bloom and Martin have given us is as authoritative, respectful and complete a record of the Black Panther Partyand#8217;s workings as we are likely to get.and#8221;
“A comprehensive history.” Mark Reynolds - Pop Matters
"Black Against Empire may well become the definitive document of one of the most important American social movements of the 20th century."
"The first comprehensive history of the party, a history which, as Bloom and Martin explain, has been mostly and#8216;forbiddenand#8217;."
"In their thoroughly researched, definitive history of the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, Bloom and Martin offer a fascinating, compelling analysis of the politics of armed self-defense against police brutality. . . . Exceptional. A must read."
"A riveting and thoughtful narrative of the Partyand#8217;s formation and ideational evolution. . . . Black Against Empire is essential reading for those looking to understand the rise and fall of movements for social change."
"Future historians of the Panthers and American radicalism will find Black Against Empire a foundational text."
"A bracingly narrated, voluminously researched history of the Black Panther Party. It plumbs rare archives and provides trenchant analysis of how and why the Panthers tapped the historical moment and emerged as a potent force." FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2013
"The first high-quality history of the Black Panther Party. . . . For the first time, one can read, in a single volume, a well-researched history that explains the origins of the Panthers in the context of Oakland neighborhood politics and the groupand#8217;s transformation into a social service organization. For that reason alone, the book will become a classic in the growing black power scholarship."
"Black against Empire is easily the most impressive, sweeping, and substantive scholarly history of the BPP. . . . Black against Empre is a masterful work. It is analytically sophisticated, superbly researched, and a fine addition to the disparate histories of the most audacious and significant black leftist group of the period."
and#8220;Lets you understand what happenedand#8212;and why.and#8221;
and#8220;A comprehensive history.and#8221;
In Oakland, California, in 1966, community college students Bobby Seale and Huey Newton armed themselves, began patrolling the police, and promised to prevent police brutality. Unlike the Civil Rights Movement that called for full citizenship rights for blacks within the U.S., the Black Panther Party rejected the legitimacy of the U.S. government and positioned itself as part of a global struggle against American imperialism. In the face of intense repression, the Party flourished, becoming the center of a revolutionary movement with offices in 68 U.S. cities and powerful allies around the world.
Black against Empire is the first comprehensive overview and analysis of the history and politics of the Black Panther Party. The authors analyze key political questions, such as why so many young black people across the country risked their lives for the revolution, why the Party grew most rapidly during the height of repression, and why allies abandoned the Party at its peak of influence. Bold, engrossing, and richly detailed, this book cuts through the mythology and obfuscation, revealing the political dynamics that drove the explosive growth of this revolutionary movement, and its disastrous unraveling. Informed by twelve years of meticulous archival research, as well as familiarity with most of the former Party leadership and many rank-and-file members, this book is the definitive history of one of the greatest challenges ever posed to American state power.
About the Author
Joshua Bloom is a Fellow at the Ralph J. Bunche Center at UCLA. He is the co-editor of Working for Justice: The L.A. Model of Organizing and Advocacy and the collection editor of the Black Panther Newspaper Collection. Waldo E. Martin, Jr. is Professor of History at UC Berkeley. He is the author of No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar American, Brown Vs. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents, and The Mind of Frederick Douglass.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Part One. Organizing Rage
1. Huey and Bobby
2. Policing the Police
Part Two. Baptism in Blood
3. The Correct Handling of a Revolution
4. Free Huey!
6. National Uprising
Part Three. Resilience
8. Law and Order
9. 41st and Central
10. Hampton and Clark
11. Bobby and Ericka
Part Four. Revolution Has Come!
12. Black Studies and Third World Liberation
13. Vanguard of the New Left
14. International Alliance
Part Five. Concessions and Unraveling
16. The Limits of Heroism