Thursday, September 26, 2013

Amazon's Book Reviews: Caribbean Authors — C.L.R. James

Cyril Lionel Robert James (4 January 1901 – 19 May 1989), best known as C. L. R. James, who sometimes wrote under the pen-name J. R. Johnson, was an Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist theorist and essayist. His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts. His work is a staple of subaltern studies, and he figures as a pioneering and influential voice in postcolonial literature. His work is often associated with Caribbean and Afro-nationalism, though James himself contended that the "either-or" was a false dichotomy, and that Caribbean peoples were indebted to European as much as African cultural traditions. A tireless political activist, James's writing on the Communist International stirred debate in Trotskyist circles, and his history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, is a seminal text in the literature of the African Diaspora. Characterized by one literary critic as an "anti-Stalinist dialectician", James was known for his autodidactism, for his occasional playwriting and fiction, and as an avid sportsman. He is also famed as a writer on cricket. Read more:

This is a review for The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution by C.L.R. James - First, James shows the utterly heartbreaking treatment the slaves of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) were subject to. Then he demonstrates the contradictions in Western Revolutionary thought which used emancipatory language but refused to address the issue of colonial slavery. Then the leaders of the slave revolution emerge in his story as true sans-culottes, Jacobins and patriots in their own right; men and women who refuse to let Napoleon reenslave them and forge a nation. Their act of "rebellion", the creation of the first black republic in the Americas and the only successful slave revolt in history, would strike fear into the hearts of slaveowners everywhere. They would pay for taking the heady egalitarian language of the 18th century seriously-in both the 19th century and the 20th and beyond, they would be subject to pay enormous indemnities to Europe for having "taken" the plantations of the whites, be subject to embargos, be forcibly invaded on several occasions, have dictators foisted upon them, and much more. Read more:

This is a review for Beyond A Boundary by C.L.R. James - Beyond a Boundary reached number 3 in the UK Observer Sport Monthly's poll of the best fifty sports books of all time. It is burdened with enormous praise; amongst the quotes included on the cover are: `To say "the best cricket book ever written" is pifflingly inadequate praise' and `Great claims have been made for [Beyond a Boundary] since its first appearance in 1963: that it is the greatest sports book ever written; that it brings the outsider a privileged insight into West Indian culture; that it is a severe examination of the colonial condition. All are true. The praise is justified. The only way that this is not the best cricket book ever written is if you do not consider it as a cricket book. It is beautifully crafted, transcending the genre: an engaging combination of cricket book, personal memoir and political and cultural commentary. There are other very good books about cricket but this is something more than that. It is a cricket book, a history book, a sociology book and more. Read more:

This is a review forMinty Alley by C.L.R. James - Minty alley is one of the first books C.L.R. James wrote, before he found his niche as a historian and cricket writer. But This isn't because of any lack of talent in fiction writing. The characters of Minty Alley are real and rounded and tell us something about ourselves as well as the people of Trinidad. The vast class differences in colonial societies even among the colonised peoples is thrown into stark relief by James's caricatures. You might be shocked at the poverty or amused by the dialogue. Read more:

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