Cornel West is one of the nation's premier public intellectuals and one of the great prophetic voices of our era. Whether he is writing a scholarly book or an article for Newsweek, whether he is speaking of Emerson, Gramsci, or Marvin Gaye, his work radiates a passion that reflects the rich traditions he draws on and weaves togetherÑBaptist preaching, American transcendentalism, jazz, radical politics. This anthology reveals the dazzling range of West's work, from his explorations of ”Prophetic Pragmatism” to his philosophizing on hip-hop.The Cornel West Reader traces the development of West's extraordinary career as academic, public intellectual, and activist. In his essays, articles, books, and interviews, West emerges as America's social conscience, urging attention to complicated issues of racial and economic justice, sexuality and gender, history and politics. This collection represents the best work of an always compelling, often controversial, and absolutely essential philosopher of the modern American experience.
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Cornel West is professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy of religion at Harvard University. He is the author of many books, including Keeping Faith, Prophetic Fragments, The Future of the Race (with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.), Breaking Bread (with bell hooks), and the bestselling Race Matters.From Kirkus Reviews:
An invaluable introduction to the writings of one our most prominent and prolific public intellectuals. West (Restoring Hope, 1997, etc.) is one of those rare African-American scholars who has been able to break out of the Black Studies ghetto not only in the academy but also in his widely and often popularly published work, as this hefty anthology plainly attests; at the same time, he asserts the continued power of Marxist thought without being confined to the only slightly less restrictive pigeonhole of socialist theory. He is as comfortable writing on William James and Josiah Royce as on Antonio Gramsci and Martin Luther King. And this retrospective collection certainly validates his stated desire ``to lay bare the basic structure of my intellectual work and life.'' Although much of the material has been published in book form before, West manages to put the pieces together in revealingly and economically thematic chunks. Those who find his technical and philosophical writings daunting will appreciate his more accessible interviews, including discussions with Bill Moyers, Anders Stephanson, and George Yancey (although a lengthy discussion of Georg Lukcs may leave most non-Marxists behind). Unfortunately, West does himself no great service with an introduction that is pompous, ponderous, and parodically self-satisfied. And while he refers to himself there as a ``Chekhovian Christian,'' West seems to have missed the dry humor that underpins much of Chekhov's best work, while understandably eschewing the rueful resignation of the Russian's plays. At his best, however, West is a lucid and serious thinker and an elegant and often impassioned writer, as this generous helping of his work reminds us. Skip the introduction and read the rest. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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