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Life in the Struggle (Critical Perspectives in the Past) Hardcover – 1988

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press,U.S. (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877225508
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877225508
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm

More About the Author

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Product Description


"This powerful book tells of Ivory Perry's choice of a life of protest not in splendid isolation, but in intimate conversation with our world Perry knows and can tell us what it is to be poor and black in America. His story assigns our task." --William S. McFeely, University of Georgia "A very rich history of a rank and file leader of the black movement... Hopefully it will be a prototype for books that emphasize the fact that social movements put up their own leaders whose qualities of leadership are precisely the same as the values and aspirations of the members of the movement." --George Rawick, University of Missouri at St. Louis "More than a simple biography, this compelling portrait tells the ways in which Afro-Americans' long history of a culture of resistance is passed on and reinterpreted in a people's ongoing struggle against a racist and class-based society. Scholars will find this invaluable text a model work in the tradition of intersecting history, society, and biography." --Melvin L. Oliver, UCLA "Those who would understand the changed realities of racial politics in St. Louis and ponder what might lie ahead should not ignore this thoroughly researched, well-written, persuasive book." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Lipsitz may be the first American historian of radical social protest who gives full range to the psychological complexities of the historical actors, without either scolding or essentially lionizing the chief protagonist. The narrative, which unravels almost like a novel, is both stirring and immensely tragic." --Mari Jo Buhle, Brown University --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

George Lipsitzis Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. The author of six books, he most recently published"Rainbow at Midnight: Labor and Culture in the 1940s."" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Lesson in History 7 April 2000
By Cathy Keup - Published on
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book because it put all of my history lessons on the Depression and the fifties through the sixties into better perspective. By following the life of Ivory Perry, a man who lived through these times, I was better able to understand the struggle that certain groups of people went through in their search for equality and fair treatment. I think this book is a wonderful teaching tool for anyone who has a difficult time with typical history books. It enables the reader to both enjoy history, and learn from it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Book for Organic Intellectuals 4 May 2005
By TS - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many biographies of American civil rights figures, A Life in the Struggle weaves a personal narrative into a setting of social contestation. However, this book diverges from such biographies in two important ways. First, Ivory Perry, the subject of the book, acts as a collaborator in the assembly of his story. Author George Lipsitz bases his research on interviews with Perry; newspapers, court documents, police reports, hospital records, military papers, and oral histories with Perry's family and acquaintances corroborate and fill in the subject's narrative. Thus the author combines traditional research methods with a familiarity of the subject's personality. Second, the subject's personality--while central to the story--does not dominate the narrative. Instead, the author uses Perry's life as a medium to discuss Antonio Gramsci's idea of the "organic intellectual," a social type which contests hegemonic cultures through an intimate and complex understanding of disaffected groups and of their traditions of resistance. In the various movements in which he participated, Perry held no high positions of leadership; his profile remained relatively low. He was uneducated, and throughout his life he struggled for subsistence. Yet because he remained among the dispossessed, Perry learned the mechanics of effective group resistance. This idea forms one of two components of Lipsitz's thesis.

The second component relies upon the author's interpretation of Perry's narrative. Having constructed Perry as an organic intellectual, Lipsitz argues for an alternative interpretation of social opposition in American history. He cites the high standards for identifying viable group opposition which have been elicited by historians of social protest. For Lipsitz, the works of Aileen Kraditor, John Patrick Diggins, and T.J. Jackson Lears share the view that American radicals since the mid-nineteenth century have ultimately capitulated to the hegemony of "materialism, individualism, and privatism" which framed their experiences (p. 231). Lipsitz argues that such an interpretation ignores the dynamic nature of hegemony. Even unsuccessful groups have forced dominant institutions to make concessions and have thereby established an effective middle ground between capitulation and outright revolution. The author presents Ivory Perry's life as a model for treading that middle ground.
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