The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America

Hugh Pearson, Author Addison Wesley Publishing Company $24 (422p) ISBN 978-0-201-63278-1
In a devastating, compelling inside look at the Black Panthers, the militant party launched in 1966 that preached armed resistance to white racism and police brutality, Pacific News Service editor Pearson challenges the view that the Panthers were destroyed by a conspiracy of police informants and FBI agents provocateurs. The author, who is African American, extensively interviewed party veterans and their associates, concluding that the Panthers' downfall was due primarily to internal corruption, factionalism and the criminal behavior of members. Party cofounder Huey Newton, murdered in West Oakland, Calif., in 1989, was, by this account, a longtime severe cocaine and alcohol addict who siphoned off many of the funds earmarked for free breakfast programs, schools and clinics. Pearson charges that Newton organized hit squads to engage in wanton murder, while his elite cadre of enforcers shook down local businesses for contributions and extorted money from pimps and drug dealers. This often shocking report, which opens with a masterful chronicle of the civil rights movement, strips away nostalgic myths surrounding the Panthers. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-0-201-48341-3
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