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capet's avatar

Should I read "The Sword and the Shield," or something else?

Asked by capet (988points) January 7th, 2022

I’m looking for a book about the social impact of militant Black radicalism in the US during the 20th century. Here are my criteria, in order of importance:

- I only speak/read English.

- I’m not very smart or educated, and I’m not interested in tracking down a ton of footnotes. So I’m looking for something intended for a “general audience,” although long is fine.

- I’m most interested in evaluating the “brass tacks” impact they had, on things like the economy, social networks, the government, etc., and the radical movements that succeeded them.

- I’m not very interested in the cultural aspect, or how history has evaluated different radical movements. Similarly, I’m not very interested in the biographies of individuals, their philosophy, etc. Of course these things will be relevant to my main interest, but I don’t want them to be the focus.

- If possible, I would be interested in a comparative perspective, placing these militant movements in a broader context, evaluating what strategies tended to work/not work and why.

I was thinking about reading Peniel Joseph’s “The Sword and the Shield” (, but it seems like it focuses more than I would like on individuals (vs movements), on culture (vs “brass tacks”), and on deep dives (vs comparative perspective). Maybe I’m wrong, I’d like to know.

But if I’m right, what books would be good?

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5 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t know the answer, but I admire your question.

I wonder if you could get some good guidance if you took it to a qualified librarian of a major library, or to someone in the field of social history at a college. Take it exactly as written.

Irukandji's avatar

The Revolution Has Come by Robyn Spencer examines both the history and the impact of the Black Panthers and focuses on the rank and file instead of just the leadership.

capet's avatar

Now that I have a few answers, I will post the books that I had in mind coming in. I’m interested in people’s opinions. I didn’t want to bias y’all at first.

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