"You Can't Kill a Revolution"
Book Review of Bloom and Martin's "Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party"

Date Written:  2014-01-01
Publisher:  Against the Current
Year Published:  2014
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20351

A book review of Bloom and Martin's "Black Against Empire" and a look at the interpersonal relationships between the members of the Black Panther Party that allowed the group to gain support.



Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, Jr. have written a remarkable partisan history of the Black Panther Party, concerned, above all, to provide an account of the Panthers' political program, insurgent practice, and conditions of possibility. It is also an openly political history: the authors have avoided retrospective accounts of the party and its history, drawing instead primarily on Party publications (especially the Black Panther newspaper) and contemporary accounts of events.

The archival collection that stands behind the book is itself a massive achievement: Bloom and Martin have assembled an almost complete edition of the Black Panther, and helped to secure a place in Berkeley's Bancroft Library for H. K. Yuen's extraordinary collection of materials related to social movements in the Bay Area during the 1960s and 1970s.

The research is meticulous, focused on the explicit program and activities of the party rather than on personal relationships (and antagonisms) among members. As a result, Black against Empire will be the first reference for anyone interested in the history of the Black Panther Party.

The book is also -- and perhaps equally importantly -- an analysis of the political prospects for similar revolutionary efforts today. Although those prospects are dim, Bloom and Martin dedicate their book to "the young revolutionaries everywhere." Of course, the authors know that the inscription is a little vague and more than a little wishful. Responding to that wish is one goal of the book: to reestablish some continuity between radicals today and their energetic forebears in that most maligned and distorted of recent historical periods, "The '60s."

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