Free Name Book Review Sample

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Book Review of ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ by W.E.B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk, which was first published in the year 1903, is an influential work in African American literature and is rated as an American classic. The book contains nine previously published articles with a few more added to them. The essays presented in the book, deal with a mixture of subjects such as social studies, historical documentation, political science and above all the author’s personal recollection of how the color line cut through his life and many others such as his. There are fourteen chapters in the book, each dedicated to various topics such as life of the Blacks after emancipation, struggles of the Black peasantry, Black Church, and Negro music. The first chapter of the book introduces the now famous metaphor of the veil, whereby Du Bois says that the African Americans view their world and the opportunities in it, be it social, economical or political, through a veil.
“Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was .
shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to
tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in com-
mon contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great
wandering shadows.’’
In this book Du Bois puts forward that, the color-line is the singularly significant problem of the twentieth century. His thoughts that the African Americans have been forced to adopt a double-consciousness, whereby they view themselves through the eyes of the other, have become a yardstick for racial reforms in America. In addition to these central themes, the author presents a scrutiny of the progress of the Blacks after emancipation, the obstacles and constraints preventing their progress, and a blueprint to eradicate those obstacles and ensure that the African Americans get full and meaningful emancipation.
Du Bois analyzes in his book, the life of the Blacks immediately after the emancipation law was passed and evaluates the reconstruction era. Particularly he examines the role of the Freedmen's Bureau. He attributes the failure of the Bureau not only to the Southern whites’ opposition, but also to the mismanagement and national neglect. He says that the only bright side of the bureau’s achievements was the establishment of the many African American schools. Though he acknowledges that the rise of the educator, Booker. T. Washington, is one of the significant events of the African American history, he disagrees with his ideas that focus solely on the material progress of the Black race. He proposes that African Americans should instead be given education that produces leaders and educators.
He also refutes the common stereotypes associated with African Americans of his period, that they are violent and lazy, and explain much of these characteristics were born because of, the centuries old segregation and oppression suffered by the Blacks. He further throws light on how the tenant farming system is just about slightly different from slavery, by taking the example of the Black peasantry in the Dougherty County, Georgia. He then traces how African religion has evolved through slavery and studies the impact of slavery on morality. The final chapter is an essay on African songs and Du Bois explains how these songs originated out of the sorrow, soreness and oppression that characterize the life of the African Americans.
The two profound messages that Du Bois shares through this collection of essays are, education is the best way for African Americans to earn their rightful place in the society, and that the segregation policies are detrimental, as under it the best of the Whites and Best of the Blacks are living apart from each other, thus stopping a fruitful union of cultures. Du Bois’ discourses on racism is considered by some post modernists as outdated , but as Rabaka opines, Du Bois theories were based on what he perceived as the most essential solution for his particular period, than charting out a way forward for a future social change. The main highlight of the book is that it conveys things which are relevant in even today’s racial discussions. Even today, people are surprised to see educated, clean, and articulate African American as reflected by Joe Biden’s comment on Barack Obama few years back.
While many of the social and political conditions that Du Bois resents in his book have been ameliorated over the past century, a few of his observations are uncomfortably contemporary, like the following excerpt from his book:
“the white folk say it is [the county prison:] is ever full of black criminals,--the black folks say that only colored boys are ever sent to jail, and they not because they are guilty, but because the State needs criminals to eke out its income by their forced labor”.
Works Cited
Bois, W. E. B. Du. The Souls of Black Folk. Maryland: Arc Manor LLC, 1903. Print.
RABAKA, REILAND. "THE SOULS OF BLACK RADICAL FOLK W. E. B. Du Bois, Critical Social Theory, and the State of Africana Studies." JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES, Vol. 36 No. 5, (2006): 732-763. Print.
Rabaka, Reiland. W.E.B. Du Bois and the Problems of the Twenty-First Century: An Essay on Africana Critical Theory. Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2007. Print.
Wolfenstein, E. Victor. A Gift of the Spirit: Reading The Souls of Black Folk. New York: Cornell University Press, 2007. Print.
Xuan Thai and Ted Barrett, CNN. Biden's description of Obama draws scrutiny. 9 February 2007. Web. 7 January 2014.

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