AL ON AMERICA

Al Sharpton, Author, Karen Hunter, With, Reverend Al Sharpton, Author . Kensington/Dafina $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7582-0350-2

"I am running to take out the DLC, which I call the Democratic Leisure Class, because that's who it serves—the leisure class and the wealthy," professes the ubiquitous and controversial reverend. In keeping with this theme, Sharpton's 2004 presidential campaign platform is an uneven political manifesto that concentrates more on race relations than on the complexities of foreign policy. Unfocused sections on the Middle East and Cuba lapse into repetitive highlights of the effects of racism within many of our domestic institutions without seriously addressing the issues at hand. Egocentric stories about lunches with Castro and Arafat result in grandiose statements claiming that only Al Sharpton has the ability to bring the moral leadership and religious aptitude necessary to resolve world crises. Foreign policy aside, what Sharpton does offer (aided by newspaper columnist and Queen Latifah co-author Hunter) is a glimpse of the driving factors, inspirational voices and career highlights that have helped create the man once known as "Alfred Sharpton, boy preacher from Brooklyn." The latter half of Sharpton's book seems more inspired, offering insight into the lack of integrity in hip-hop, his admiration for mentor James Brown and his personal reflections about the infamous Tawana Brawley fiasco. On the Brawley case, Sharpton is unapologetic and goes so far as to claim: "to me there is still reasonable doubt in that case." Overall, despite a lack of focus, Sharpton proves he is one of America's most passionate and controversial thinkers: "I had to be me, regardless of what anyone else felt or thought about me. That's true power." (Oct.)

Forecast:Sharpton has a large following in New York City, where this will do well.

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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