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Early 20th-century black liberation activist Hubert Harrison has not received much academic attention, and this initial volume of a projected two-volume biography by independent scholar Perry is the first book-length treatment of his life. Why bother to try to revive Harrison's reputation as a political leader, influential orator and journalist, and philosopher of liberation? Perry argues that Harrison's catholic views (he fought for equality on the basis of class, sex, employment, and immigration status as well as race) have kept history from recalling the influence he had in his own time: he was too independent and complicated to be easily pigeonholed by scholars. Perry attempts to redress this with his carefully researched and finely drawn study. Each aspect of Harrison's early life is delivered in deliberate context, with attention to the minutiae of personality, politics, neighborhood history, and other issues. This slow, rich storytelling style may bore some readers, but Perry's clear prose allows access to a three-dimensional picture of Harrison's life for readers with little intellectual foundation in the period. Recommended for African American history collections and larger general American history collections.