BLOOD IN MY EYE by George L. Jackson
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Genet called Soledad Brother (1970) ""a poem of love and combat."" Completed barely a week before he was killed at San Quentin, Jackson's second collection of letters, with essays interspersed, is much less poem, much more single-minded polemic. Here the revolutionary consciousness towards which he was struggling in the early letters is fully realized: Jackson picks and chooses among Lenin, Mao, Fanon, the Algerian and Uruguayan examples to construct an operative theory of urban guerrilla warfare which will fit the unique polity of racially torn America. Imprisonment as an aspect of class struggle and racism as a fundamental characteristic of monopoly capitalism -- these are his organizing principles, the dual pillars of his exhortatory call to arms. Swiftly and urgently he outlines tactics and strategy: a Leninist vanguard, a broadly based political infrastructure within the black colonies of the inner cities which will shield the people's army, light easily portable and easily stolen weapons, camouflage, infiltration, ambush. Prescriptive and denunciatory, these are purposeful manifestoes which never swerve for a lyrical aside or an introspective digression; the fierce tenderness of Soledad Brother has been exorcised; instead ""perfect love and perfect hate"" fuse to a luminescent lucidity in this summons to purgative violence. Consciously, Jackson has made every effort to expunge the ego of self -- ""my life has absolutely no value"" -- except insofar as it is a mere instrument of revolution: life, death, a book, are all equally serviceable weapons in the revolutionary arsenal and, tactical considerations alone will determine which he will seize. The temptation to read this as a desperate attempt to endow the death of his much loved seventeen year-old brother, Jonathan, with meaning is overwhelming, and the anticipation of his own death is hard to miss even unto the programming of revolutionary funerals: ""their funerals should be gala affairs, of home-brewed wine and revolutionary music."" A surging battle-hymn, suicidal and triumphal.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1971
ISBN: 0933121237
Publisher: Random House