Jesse Jackson: A Biographyby Marshall Frady
Raised in the segregated South, out of abject beginnings in South Carolina poverty and illegitimacy, heir apparent to Martin Luther King, Jr., twice a presidential candidate, recognized on the streets of South Central L.A., Ghana, Armenia, and Damascus, Jesse Jackson is a figure unique not only in American politics, but in American history. As James Baldwin noted during Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign, "His presence presents the American Republic with questions and choices it has spent all its history until this hour trying to avoid...And nothing will ever again be what it was before."
Marshall Frady has been given closer access to Jackson and his family for a more sustained period of time than any previous writer. He has traveled with Jackson in the U.S., Africa, Russia, and the Middle East, and has conducted countless interviews with his colleagues and rivals of the last thirty years. The result is the most astute and compelling portrait of the man we are ever likely to have. Jesse is an enthralling journey that reveals the nonstop demands of character and sets them against the fundamental, dividing prism of race in America.
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 ambitionto 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" remarkhas 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.
- Random House Publishing Group
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- 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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