Holt published the general history of African Americans in 1915, the year the death of Booker T. Washington left Du Bois (1868- 1963) as nearly the sole African American political and intellectual leader. Kenneth W. Goings (African-American and Africana studies, Ohio State U.-Columbus) contributes an introduction placing it in the context of his life and the times. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Hot on the heels of David Levering Lewis's second and final volume of his DuBois biography comes this scholarly yet engaged study of the African diaspora, first published in 1915, and left out of the collected DuBois published by The Library of America. Like Lewis, the editors no doubt considered this a minor work by the controversial intellectual (18681963), whose long career spanned the centuries, ending with this co-founder of the NAACP as a hardened communist. But Robert Gregg, who provides a helpful afterword here, argues the merits of a this wide-ranging narrative that begins with prehistoric Africa, follows the migrations to Egypt, the engagement with Islam, the self-sufficiency of preslave-era Africa, and the passages to the Caribbean and the US. Not just relevant in terms of DuBois's career, as Gregg documents, this even-tempered treatise serves as "history, anthropology, social commentary" and "as an elegy on the condition of migrancy." DuBois also anticipates the better Afrocentric scholarship, and the notion that race is a social construct. Important by any standard.