on 21 August 1997
Leonard Barrett has created one of the finest peices of literature on the subject of Rastafari. The history of Jamaica's social and economic struggles, religions, music, and people are written beautifully and are intertwined, so that the reader may see and understand the reasons behind the purpose and beliefs of the Rastafari. As a student of world religions, I recommend this book to any person interested in history, social sciences, anthropolgy, music, or any other aspect of life. Hooray! and Thank you Mr. Barrett for a beautifully written piece of world history and life.
on 24 June 2009
This is a gem of a book which puts the Rastafarian movement in its cultural and historical context, giving us a clear picture of the birth and evolution of the movement. It is carefully and lovingly researched and detailed, and also enormously readable and entertaining. It starts off by situating the reader, giving us an overview of the social and economic conditions of Jamaica together with its cultural and religious traditions. It then traces the history of rebellion against slavery, including details of the struggle (and then sell-out) of the Maroons, the charismatic Sam Sharpe and his rebellion, the Morant Bay Rebellion, and of course the influence of Marcus Garvey. We then look at the coronation of Ras Tafari (as Haile Selassie I) in Ethiopia and the birth of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica.
The faltering first steps of the movement are detailed - the founder member who ended up in Kingston Mental Hospital, and Claudius Henry's aborted repatriation to Africa which nurtured and then smashed many people's dreams - through to the recognition at the beginning of the 60s by both people and government that the RasTafari movement held out a legitimate potential for reform, by the 70s becoming a viable force for social change. The author analyses the principal beliefs and practices of the Rastafarians and includes fascinating interviews with Rastas involved in politics and/or spirituality and/or music and/or painting and/or sculpture and/or poetry. The creativity of the movement is extensively explored.
The main part of the book takes us up to 1975. This is an incompleteness rather than a weakness because it makes the Rastafarian struggle to become both a spiritual force and a politico-cultural rebellion all the more vivid. The author then adds two chapters to cover the period 1975 to 1983. Here he explores reactions to the death of Haile Selassie I and the enormous success of Bob Marley. He looks at the spread of Rastafarian culture and beliefs both within and beyond Jamaica and also focuses on interesting developments such as the rise of the Twelve Tribes Of Israel and the changing position of women.
This is a tremendously informative and entertaining book which is essential reading for all those interested in the subject.
on 17 June 2003
Great, very readable introduction to the subject of Rastafari. Takes you way beyond the music and the clichés, puts it in the wider context: sociology, history, economics and cultural identity all come into play here.
Barrett looks at the theme of Rastafari as an outsider, an academic, rather than someone already "converted". As a result his study comes across as more objective and carries more weight than much other writing on the rastafarians, which can feel sycophantic and a little irksome.
Having said that, the author does come out strongly in favour of the movement- but you feel it's a fair assessment, the product of a great deal of bona fide study.
on 22 January 2016
in my appreciation and long time listening of reggae music, i have been aware that many gaps exist in my understanding of the rastafari movement, and this has proved to be a situation that requires resolution. to this effect i have obtained a number of books on or around the subject. this was the first i picked up - a used 67p copy, previously the property of the personnel office of hammersmith police station? in a condition practically unread, we can take what we will from this! however, i think i hit paydirt with the first pick, as, although this is a serious and scholarly study of the phenomenon, it is written with an obvious joy that the author conveys to me effectively, whilst furnishing me with the facts i was looking for, and much more. it matters little that the initial, time consuming study takes things as far as the early 70s, as it was a history i needed, and in any case this edition has added material updating it to 1983.
and a black history it supplies in detail, particularly the events and societal conditions that led up to the the first rastafarians setting up the pinnacle camp, and it's brutal destruction by the establishment. as the writer takes up the story, the rastas are still outsiders in jamaican society, and his study (as involved as a non-rastafarian could possibly be) outlines outlines changing times regarding better and more effective organisation and initial political forays. it is a fascinating story, and a bonus that it is written in such a compelling manner. the old adage of it being a labour of love would certainly apply here.
this book has left very little (for me) unanswered, and has served well as the bas(s)eline for further reading! excellent!
on 14 June 2011
Very good on the history of not only the rastafarian movement/belief system, but especially on the wider political and social history of Jamaica. Certainly not a book written because it's author is simply impressed by the members' championing of marijuana - this is no stoners' guide, but a serious academic study of a cultural movement, and its' place and influence within Jamaican society.
on 7 March 1998
As a friend of Jamaica, I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Rastas or Jamaican history. You will definitely know much about the Rastas after reading this one.
on 8 April 2014
If you're interested in African, Afro-Caribbean or -American culture this book is a welcome addition. If you are (heavy) influenced by rasta roots 'n culture reggae or nyabinghi music and chants this is the book for you, as it explains all you need and wanted to know about what rastafarianism is all about. Unfortunately just a few pictures in rather bad print. So this book is essentially all about reading, rather than looking. The only reason why I couldn't give this book a 5 star rating is because the amount of book you get for the suggested retail price is on the edge. But then again books like this don't sell by the millions, unfortunately.
on 15 January 2008
I find this Book very interesting because this is not just a field research in anthropology, there are included events from the time when the books author was in Jamaica. There are interviews with rastas, poetry of rastas. This Book also gives an introduction into History of Jamaica.
I think this Book will bee very useful for thous who want to know more about rastafari. Also for thous who study religion,politics,culture...
on 31 October 2007
This book made me a lot more intrigued by the Rastafarian religion and Reggae culture than I was before I read it. Today my interest in the subject has grown to a great extent and that's, for the most part, all thanks to this book. It is informative and a good read.
on 6 February 2014
Love the product was as described good condition, good cultural learning. nice selection of information would recommend, happy with purchase. Speedy delivery.