Reading List

Black Radical Thought: A Verso Bookshelf

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Here we gather key artists, writers and activists of the Black radical tradition, redrawing the links between Black resistance and anti-capitalism. These powerful texts offer us responses to the rebellions in Ferguson, critical analysis of white supremacy and the myth of a post racial society, and offer new directions for the international social movements of today. Included are contributions from #BlackLivesMatter, W. E. B. Du Bois, Angela Davis and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

ALL our books are 50% off until January 1 as part of our end-of-year sale! See full details here, as well as our End of Year HighlightsGift Guide, and our best short reads.

Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom. 

“Where are you from?” was the question hounding Hazel Carby as a girl in post-war London. One of the so-called brown babies of the Windrush generation, born to a Jamaican father and Welsh mother, Carby’s place in her home, her neighbourhood, and her country of birth was always in doubt. 

In this classic work published in the heady days of anti-colonial revolution, Groundings with My Brothers follows the global circulation of emancipatory ideas, from the black students of North America to the Rasta counterculture of Jamaica and beyond. The book is striking in its simultaneous ability to survey the wide and heterogeneous international context while remaining anchored in grassroots politics, as Rodney offers us first-hand accounts of mass movement organizing. Having inspired a generation of revolutionaries, this new edition will re-introduce the book to a new political landscape that it helped shape, with reflections from leading scholar-activists. 

Mokhtefi crossed paths with some of the era’s brightest stars: Frantz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, Timothy Leary, Ahmed Ben Bella, Jomo Kenyatta, and Eldridge Cleaver. She was instrumental in the establishment of the International Section of the Black Panther Party in Algiers and close at hand as the group became involved in intrigue, murder, and international hijackings. She traveled with the Panthers and organized Cleaver’s clandestine departure for France. Algiers, Third World Capital is an unforgettable story of an era of passion and promise. 

The Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting their day-to-day struggles, their experiences of education, work and health care, and the personal and political struggles they have waged to preserve a sense of identity and community. First published in 1985 and winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize that year, The Heart of the Race is a testimony to the collective experience of black women in Britain, and their relationship to the British state throughout its long history of slavery, empire and colonialism. 

A powerful challenge to the way we understand the politics of race and the history of anti-racist struggle. 

How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, Rodney makes the unflinching case that African “mal-development” is not a natural feature of geography, but a direct product of imperial extraction from the continent, a practice that continues up into the present. Meticulously researched, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains a relevant study for understanding the so-called “great divergence” between Africa and Europe, just as it remains a prescient resource for grasping the multiplication of global inequality today. 

The sixties were a time when radical movements learned to embrace twentieth-century Marxism. Revolution in the Air is the definitive study of this turning point, and examines what the resistance of today can learn from the legacies of Lenin, Mao and Che. 

In this groundbreaking discussion, Ed Morales explains how Latinx political identities are tied to a long Latin American history of mestizaje—“mixedness” or “hybridity”—and that this border thinking is both a key to understanding bilingual, bicultural Latin cultures and politics and a challenge to America’s infamously black–white racial regime. This searching and long-overdue exploration of the meaning of race in American life reimagines Cornel West’s bestselling Race Matters with a unique Latinx inflection.

Black rebellion has returned. Dramatic protests have risen up in scores of cities and campuses; there is renewed engagement with the history of Black radical movements and thought. Here, key intellectuals—inspired by the new movements and by the seminal work of the scholar Cedric J. Robinson—recall the powerful tradition of Black radicalism while defining new directions for the activists and thinkers it inspires. 

With race and the police once more burning issues, this classic work from one of America’s giants of black radicalism has lost none of its prescience or power. 

In this pioneering history, Ron Ramdin traces the roots of Britain’s disadvantaged black working class. From the development of a small black presence in the sixteenth century, through the colonial labour institutions of slavery, indentureship, and trade unionism, Ramdin expertly guides us through the stages of creation for a UK minority whose origins are often overlooked. He examines the emergence of a black radical ideology underpinning twentieth-century struggles against unemployment, racial attacks and workplace inequality, and delves into the murky realms of employer and trade union racism. First published in 1987, this revised edition includes a new introduction reflecting on events over the past four decades. 

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect. 

Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed. 

The Beautiful Struggle is an extraordinary memoir from the most important new voice in the US race debate and the author of New York Times bestseller list no. 1 Between the World and Me, hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading.”
 

Development Arrested is a major reinterpretation of the 200-year-old conflict between African American workers and the planters of the Mississippi Delta. The book measures the impact of the plantation system on those who suffered its depredations firsthand, while tracing the decline and resurrection of plantation ideology in national public policy debate. Despite countless defeats under the planter regime, African Americans in the Delta continued to push forward their agenda for social and economic justice.

The distinguished American civil rights leader, W. E. B. Du Bois first published these fiery essays, sketches, and poems individually nearly 80 years ago in the Atlantic, the Journal of Race Development, and other periodicals. Part essay, part autobiography, Darkwater explicitly addresses significant issues, such as the oppression of women and Eurocentric standards of beauty, the historical rise of the idea of whiteness, and the abridgement of democracy along race, class, and gender lines. Reflecting the author’s ideas as a politician, historian, and artist, this volume has long moved and inspired readers with its militant cry for social, political, and economic reforms for black Americans. 

First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include recollections of her early life in Harlem; a look at the continued underrepresentation of black voices in politics, media, and culture; and the legacy of such figures as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison,and Alice Walker. Wallace addresses the tensions between race, gender, and society, bringing them into the open with a singular mix of literary virtuosity and scholarly rigor. Invisibility Blues challenges and informs with the plain-spoken truth that has made it an acknowledged classic. 

Originally published in 1978, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman caused a storm of controversy. Michele Wallace blasted the masculine biases of the black politics that emerged from the sixties. She described how women remained marginalized by the patriarchal culture of Black Power, demonstrating the ways in which a genuine female subjectivity was blocked by the traditional myths of black womanhood. With a foreword that examines the debate the book has sparked between intellectuals and political leaders, as well as what has—and, crucially, has not—changed over the last four decades, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman continues to be deeply relevant to current feminist debates and black theory today. 

B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste is one of the most important, yet neglected, works of political writing from India. Written in 1936, it is an audacious denunciation of Hinduism and its caste system. Ambedkar – a figure like W.E.B. Du Bois – offers a scholarly critique of Hindu scriptures, scriptures that sanction a rigidly hierarchical and iniquitous social system. The world’s best-known Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, responded publicly to the provocation. The hatchet was never buried. 

A dissection of the racism that has deformed a century of border policy. 

A longtime movement insider's powerful account of the origins of today's protest movements and what they can achieve now.

ALL our books are 50% off until January 1 as part of our end-of-year sale! See full details here, as well as our End of Year HighlightsGift Guide, and our best short reads.