THE JESSE JACKSON PHENOMENON: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics by

THE JESSE JACKSON PHENOMENON: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A study in political science of Afro-American politics, primarily, and of Jackson, merely symbolically. It becomes evident at the outset that Reed has little use for Jackson's particular brand of fireball rhetoric and personal charisma. The overall theme of Reed's work is that Jackson has damaged the black political movement in America by substituting his own persona for a deeper discussion of the issues. Reed sees Jackson's presidential candidacy as a ritual event, tangential to the real issue, which Reed sees as how blacks are to govern. The dichotomy stems from the two styles of black leadership current in America--that of the black elected elite, who are part of the establishment, and that which arises from the reverential authority claimed by some sort of tie to Martin Luther King and/or his style. The problem, Reed states, is ""that no ideological force exists within the black community that is strong enough to take precedence over client linkages,"" that is, external sources of patronage. Reed sees no need to humor Jackson along through yet another run for the White House in 1988. A sensible program for blacks, he says, ""can arise only from coalitional activity within the party."" Despite his book being bloated in academese, Reed is in line with current wisdom, which sees a new rising generation of black leaders who work quietly for the benefit of the country as a whole, and, pro tante, blacks as a group. Heavy-hitting but, unfortunately, heavy-going, too.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press