Jesse Jackson: A Biography

Jesse Jackson: A Biography

by Marshall Frady
     
 

His ambition since his youth has been to be nothing less than the nation's moral evangel, the American Gandhi. But as he courses deliberately through American politics he has continued to be misperceived as simply a political being. In Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson, Marshall Frady writers with brilliant insight and understanding of the forces shaping…  See more details below

Overview

His ambition since his youth has been to be nothing less than the nation's moral evangel, the American Gandhi. But as he courses deliberately through American politics he has continued to be misperceived as simply a political being. In Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson, Marshall Frady writers with brilliant insight and understanding of the forces shaping this unique American character, and uncloaks the Jackson enigma. Over the last seven years, Frady has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles with Jackson in the United States and abroad and has had unparalleled access to his entire family, especially his wife, Jackie, a vivid and outspoken character in her own right, and his friends and associates of the last half century. He has explored the mystery of this tumultuaously mixed man; Jesse is a biography of singular power.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
Journalist Frady's (To Save Our Schools, New Horizon, 1986) biography of Civil Rights leader and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson makes extensive use of numerous interviews and conversations that the author had with Jackson, his family, and many of his associates. The book offers valuable insights into Jackson's difficult childhood and its effect on his personality; his relationship with Martin Luther King; and his two presidential campaigns. Frady also accompanied Jackson on a trip to Iraq in 1990 and provides an excellent account of how Jackson persuaded Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, to release hostages taken during the early days of the Persian Gulf crisis. Unfortunately, Frady has a tendency to be repetitious, and his writing style may sometimes hinder the general reader's understanding rather than facilitate it. Nonetheless, this is the most comprehensive biography available of a very important American political figure. Recommended for public and academic libraries. (Photographs and index not seen.)Thomas H. Ferrell, Univ. of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette
Bonnie Smothers
Frady met Jackson in the late sixties when he was covering the civil rights movement for "Newsweek" and Jackson was an assistant to Martin Luther King Jr. Now, Frady writes, Jackson is "about the only figure remaining from the classic days--the last survivor--who is still actively at it." Frady has traveled with the evangelist in the U.S., Africa, Russia, and the Middle East and covered Jackson's surprisingly strong presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988 ("Jes-sie! Jes-sie! Jes-sie!" ). In spite of this background, he reminds the reader of the difficulties of a white person writing about a black person, bringing up the controversy that emanated from William Styron's novel about Nat Turner, the black insurrectionist. Perhaps that may disarm Frady's would-be critics, but it doesn't deter him from offering a very intimate and searching inquiry into Jackson's life. It doesn't deter him from raising the controversial issues and criticism aimed at Jackson, or from answering that most impolite Jackson question: "What does Jesse want?" Frady found the way through those complexities when he reached the deep understanding that Jackson "operates in the interior regions of the heart, where pride and hope happen." From Jackson's childhood struggles to overcome the illegitimacy that thrust him to the fringes of society to his scantly acknowledged triumph in gaining the release of hostages from Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Frady illustrates that understanding as he takes the reader along on Jackson ministries, planned and unplanned, to the poor, the lost, and the needy around the world. After it's all over, many readers may find themselves mumbling, Jes-sie! Jes-sie! Jes-sie!
Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious biography of an ambitious and complex man.

For several years journalist and biographer Frady (Wallace, not reviewed, etc.) has been granted close access to Jesse Jackson, whom he first met while covering the civil rights movement for Newsweek in the late 1960s. Yet unlike many authorized biographies, this portrait has nothing hagiographic about it. Frady reports that Jackson is driven by an unusual thirst for public acclaim (former NAACP head Roger Wilkins once said, "I just wish sometimes that he would not need recognition as much as he does"). And his ambition—to say nothing of his unseemly rush to don Martin Luther King's mantle after King's assassination in 1968, his ill-begotten alliance with Louis Farrakhan, and his infamous "Hymietown" remark—has come close to being his undoing. For all that ego, however, Jackson has rightfully become many things to many people, "not just a preacher, not just a politician, not just a social activist, not only a militant young black Joshua to his people but also . . . a star of sorts in the nation's pop firmament of the diversely famed." Through his hard work and genuine commitment to a multiethnic progressive politics, Frady suggests, Jackson has given hope to what James Baldwin called "the most dangerous creation of any society . . . that man who has nothing to lose." His uncategorizability makes him a complete original, Frady says, perhaps the most original figure in American public life. Ill-used by Bill Clinton and seemingly irrelevant to a younger generation of black activists, Jackson continues to be everywhere at once (Frady calls this "the Jacksonian physics of reality"), pressing his cause and enlivening the national debate.

Well written and well balanced, this is essential reading for students of contemporary American politics in this election year.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394575865
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/21/1996
Pages:
552
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.75(d)

Meet the Author

A native South Carolinian, Marshal Frady has been a journalist for over twenty-five years, writing principally on political figures and racial and social tensions in the American culture, first as a correspondent for Newsweek, then for Life, Harper's, Esquire, The New York Review of Books, The Sunday Times (London), The Atlantic Monthly, and most recently The New Yorker.  In the 1980's, he was chief writer and correspondent for ABC News Closeup and a correspondent for Nightline.  He is the author of the acclaimed biographies Wallace and Billy Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness.  He is currently at work on a novel.

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