The Cornel West Reader

Cornel West

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Cornel West is one of the nation’s premier public intellectuals and one of the great prophetic voices of our era. Whether he is writing a scholarly book or an article for Newsweek, whether he is speaking of Emerson, Gramsci, or Marvin Gaye, his work radiates a passion that reflects the rich traditions he draws on and weaves together: Baptist preaching, American transcendentalism, jazz, radical politics. This anthology reveals the dazzling range of West’s work, from his explorations of ”Prophetic Pragmatism” to his philosophizing on hip-hop.The Cornel West Reader traces the development of West’s extraordinary career as academic, public intellectual, and activist. In his essays, articles, books, and interviews, West emerges as America’s social conscience, urging attention to complicated issues of racial and economic justice, sexuality and gender, history and politics. This collection represents the best work of an always compelling, often controversial, and absolutely essential philosopher of the modern American experience.

The grandson of a Baptist minister, West is a professor at Harvard University who has adeptly combined the introspective strengths of the academic philosopher-theologian with the activist and humanist elements of the African-American religious tradition and black nationalist thought. This mammoth collection of social commentary, interviews, essays and memoir details his evolution as a social analyst and public figure, gathering some of his finest work from his previous books (Keeping Faith; Prophetic Fragments; Race Matters, etc.) as well as from a wide range of academic sources. Calling himself "a Chekhovian Christian," West is deeply concerned with the corruption of the dignity of the everyday citizen and the betrayal of the ideals of American democracy through its embrace of racist and sexist beliefs. While the range of his philosophical sermons can occasionally be overwhelming, his eclectic interests and original observations are quite rewarding. Whether he is discussing Marxist theory, slavery, architecture, black sexuality, black-Jewish relations or bebop and rap, his often complex statements yield a continual flood of surprising insights. West is at his most accessible in his interviews with philosopher George Yancy, TV host Bill Moyers and African-American feminist writer bell hooks. This collection amply attests that West's reputation as a brilliant, humane voice in American intellectual discourse is richly deserved. - Publishers Weekly

"Cornel West is not simply a lucid African-American guide equal to the complexities of real multiculturalism, but also an authentic teacher of hope and reason." -- Edward Said

"Cornel West thinks like a sage, acts like a warrior, and writes like a poetical prophet." -- Maya Angelou
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