by Peniel E. Joseph
This "landmark" (Ibram X. Kendi) dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King transforms our understanding of the twentieth century's most iconic African American leaders.
To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense versus nonviolence, Black Power versus civil rights, the sword versus the shield. The struggle for Black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright.
In The Sword and the Shield, Peniel E. Joseph upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. Now updated with a new afterword, this is a strikingly revisionist account of Malcolm and Martin, the era they defined, and their lasting impact on today's Movement for Black Lives.
"Joseph, a prolific historian of twentieth-century African-American politics, an indefatigable public commentator, and arguably the leading chronicler of the Black Power movement, sheds light in The Sword and the Shield on the complex intellectual and strategic dynamics beneath the publicly fractious relationship between Martin and Malcolm." -- New York Review of Books
"The Sword and the Shield is a landmark. It is what happens when one America's greatest historians of African America shines the same light on two of African America's greatest historical figures. Peniel Joseph deploys his supreme talents as a biographer and movement historian to interweave the world-shattering lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X." -- Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist
"Arguing against facile juxtapositions of the political philosophies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Peniel Joseph has written a powerful and persuasive re-examination of these iconic figures, tracing the evolution of both men's activism. The Sword and the Shield provides a nuanced analysis of these figures' political positions in addition to unfolding the narratives of their personal lives. Well-written and compelling, this important new book brilliantly explores the commonalities between the political goals of Malcolm and Martin." -- Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
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