W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet / Edition 1

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Pioneering historian, sociologist, editor, novelist, poet, and organizer, W.E.B. Du Bois was one of the foremost African American intellectuals of the twentieth century. While Du Bois is remembered for his monumental contributions to scholarship and civil rights activism, the spiritual aspects of his work have been misunderstood, even negated. W.E.B. Du Bois, American Prophet, the first religious biography of this leader, illuminates the spirituality that is essential to understanding his efforts and achievements in the political and intellectual world.

Historian Edward J. Blum reveals how spirituality was central to Du Bois's approach to Marxism, pan-Africanism, and nuclear disarmament, his support for black churches, and his reckoning of the spiritual wage of white supremacy. His writings, teachings, and prayers served as articles of faith for fellow activists of his day, from student book club members to Langston Hughes. A blend of history, sociology, literary criticism, and religious reflection in the model of Du Bois's best work, W.E.B. Du Bois, American Prophet recasts the life of this great visionary and intellectual for a new generation of scholars and activists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is a marvelous probing into the unknown and unexplored dimension of the great W. E. B. Du Bois's life and work: his self-styled religious and spiritual temperament. Edward Blum is to be congratulated for this grand contribution!"—Cornel West, Princeton University

"Blum's work powerfully evokes both the spirit and substance of Du Bois's moral vision in ways that will greatly benefit students and scholars of American religious and intellectual history for years to come."—Journal of American History

"From comprehensive and original archival research, Blum reveals a Du Bois who from the beginning to the end of his career was obsessed with religion, its rhetoric, typologies, practices, and moral virtues. This book—really, an intervention—is long overdue."—Callaloo

"A greater tribute to the man cannot be found, even in the works of the most seasoned Du Bois scholars."—Church History

"Blum illuminates the entire range of Du Bois's writings, showing him as a prophetic thinker at times, a deliverer of jeremiads, a composer of creeds, an appreciator of the spirituality of everyday folk, and a visionary who anticipated trends in black theology and womanist theology. A truly valuable contribution to African American and American religious history."—Paul Harvey, University of Colorado

"In this eloquent and penetrating book, Edward Blum explores a crucial but neglected aspect of the life and times of W. E. B. Du Bois: the intersection of race and religion. . . . He gives us, as no one else has, a new Du Bois. It is a signal accomplishment and should be required reading for anyone interested in American protest literature and the role of religion in social reform."—John Stauffer, author of The Black Hearts of Men

"Edward Blum has offered us a remarkably fresh, provocative, and searching reading of Du Bois, one that places religion and spirituality at the center of his thought and sensibilities. But he has offered us something more as well: an important engagement with religion and the construction of race—of blackness and whiteness—in America."—Steven Hahn, author of A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration

"While W. E. B. Du Bois's many prescient ideas on race and the color line are often quoted, he is rarely characterized in the sacred prophetic sense. In this first comprehensive study of the religious meaning and biblical references in Du Bois's writings, Edward Blum brilliantly and movingly renders the complex soul of this intellectual giant, who demanded his people's deliverance from a sin-sick world of racial injustice."—Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, author of Righteous Discontent: The Women's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920

"With this book Edward J. Blum solidified his reputation as one of the most singular and innovative scholars writing on religion and race today."—Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812240108
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Series: Politics and Culture in Modern America Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,175,486
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward J. Blum teaches history at San Diego State University. His books include the award-winning Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865-1898.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Rethinking W. E. B. Du Bois, Rethinking Religion and Race 3

Chapter 1 The Hero with a Black Face: Autobiography and the Mythology of Self 20

Chapter 2 Race as Cosmic Sight in The Souls of Black Folk 61

Chapter 3 A Dark Monk Who Wrote History and Sociology: The Spiritual Wage of Whiteness, the Black Church, and Mystical Africa 98

Chapter 4 Black Messiahs and Murderous Whites: Violence and Faith in Literary Expression 134

Chapter 5 Christ Was a Communist: Religion for an Aging Leftist 181

Epilogue: The Passing of the Prophet 211

Notes 223

Index 257

Acknowledgments 271

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2008

    W.E.B. Du Bois

    - I was assigned this book for a history class and was honestly not looking forward to reading it because most of the books about Du Bois are about politics and hard to read. I was pleasantly surprised with this book because Blum takes a different approach to the Du Bois story. Blum argues that Du Bois was actually religious, which is contrary to what other authors have written about him. The Souls of Black Folk is an important piece to look at when studying Du Bois and this book made me see the controversies the piece was attacking and the debates that came because of the piece. This is not an easy or quick read, but the information inside makes it a worthwhile read.

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  • Posted December 11, 2008

    Blum is inspiring

    Written by a great History professor, this book takes you through the life of W.E.B. Du Bois to enlighten the reader of views of one very influential man in America. Du Bois is an individual who every American should become acquainted with. A must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2008

    W.E.B. Du Bois, American Prophet

    Professor Edward Blum from San Diego State University writes from a different view about the life of W.E.B. Du Bois. Most historians write about Du Bois and his politics but never about his opinions and views on religion. Many historians even believe that Du Boise did not believe in a religion. However Professor Blum goes against the grain and writes about Du Bois in the context of religion and how he actually used it in many of his works. He also writes about Du Bois¿s many accomplishments including the NAACP and other organizations he helped to put together. Blum shows another side of the famous W.E.B. Du Bois that many historians overlook.

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  • Posted December 8, 2008

    American Prophet

    Professor Blum has an extremely different perception on the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois. While most historians consider Du Bois to be one of the more important men in recent African American history, they usually choose to neglect his religious side. Blum is able to shed light upon this subject that was overlooked for so long. This book highlights how Du Bois was deeply influenced by religion, and that most of his social decisions reflected this. Other than the religious aspect, Blum does a terrific job of idolizing this racial reformer. From the Talented Tenth to Du Bois¿ African American economic thoughts, American Prophet does a great job of summarizing the life of W.E.B. Du Bois.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2008

    American Prophet

    Edward Blum takes a semi well known figure and tells you the whole story of his life. Although he is taught about in many high school history classes, it is very little and you never get the whole story. Blum takes the life of the man who helped African-Americans and tells you everything he went through as a child and throughout his adult life. This book will help any student truly understand Du Bois and allow you to see that despite popular belief he is not atheist and used religion to help him fight for racial equality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2008

    A Good Book

    I truly enjoyed reading this book because Edward Blum brings a different perspective on Du Bois. Historians are quick to say that Du Bois never had religion and possibly he was a Atheist. Blum show that Du Bois was actually religious and was fighting the injustice brought on by race. Before you judge Du Bois read this book and get the facts right.

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  • Posted October 20, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet

    Edward Blum uncovers the religious context in the life and writings of W. E. B. Du Bois. Often labeled an atheist by historians, Du Bois was a deeply spiritually man as evidenced by his writings. This is not a traditionally biography of Du Bois, rather this is a religious biography highlighting on the main themes of Du Bois writings. In the end the reader will come to respect Du Bois for his deeply moving words and his intelligence. Though there are aspects of Du Bois political beliefs that to me are unappealing. In the end W. E. B. Du Bois, American Prophet is required reading to better understand this complex man

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2008

    WEB DU BOIS American Prophet

    Web Dubois was a highly respected man, but a misunderstood man at that. Many historians believe him to be of irreligious manner, but Blum followed the facts and gave light on Du Bois¿ never seizing faith. . The novel focuses on the details of Du Bois¿ works and the direct correlation of religion throughout his entire life. I found the novel very interesting and easy to read. I highly recommend for those interested in learning about a man who had such great impact on out society today, even decades after passing, a man whose ideas are still practiced. Hearing of Du Bois¿ compassion for people and making a change ,this novel is inspiring and influential.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2007

    A Book Readers Cannot Ignore!!!

    Edward J. Blum's book displays his great devotion and scholarly dedication to bringing Du Bois's spirit alive for a new generation to discover. Readers should not ignore this book because it opens a window to reveal a man who is too often misconstrued. This book exposes truths not find in history textbooks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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