Looking for Farrakhan

Florence H. Levinsohn, Author Ivan R. Dee Publisher $25 (320p) ISBN 978-1-56663-157-0
Refused access to Farrakhan and those close to him, Levinsohn (Harold Washington: A Political Biography) has written--with mixed results--a meditation on him and his role within the Nation of Islam. She starts with Marcus Garvey, Nation of Islam (NOI) founder Wallace Fard and his successor, Elijah Muhammed, whose teachings gave rise to the term ""black power."" The middle section of the book tediously recounts Levinsohn's unsuccessful efforts to interview Farrakhan. She goes on to tough-mindedly recount some of his history, observing that he presents a different side to writers for the white media than to his young followers, to whom he reveals his vision. She considers Farrakhan's hours-long speeches demagogic and reminiscent of Hitler and Castro and suggests that his West Indian background, which ""had little use for American blacks,"" fuels ""contempt of the light-skinned black for his dark-skinned brother."" She observes that Farrakhan offers no plan to solve ""the massive economic and social problems of the Third World... let alone his own poor blacks."" Still, Levinsohn considers him the most influential person in black America, and she argues that he is only exploiting already strained race relations and connects with his constituency only after great resistance and grievance. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 06/01/1997
Paperback - 305 pages - 978-1-56663-784-8
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