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The Wretched of the Earth [Hardcover]

Frantz Fanon , Constance Farrington
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1965
Frantz Fanon's seminal work on the trauma of colonization, "The Wretched of the Earth" made him the leading anti-colonialist thinker of the twentieth century. This "Penguin Modern Classics" edition is translated from the French by Constance Farrington, with an introduction by Jean-Paul Sartre. Written at the height of the Algerian war for independence from French colonial rule and first published in 1961, Frantz Fanon's classic text has provided inspiration for anti-colonial movements ever since, analysing the role of class, race, national culture and violence in the struggle for freedom. With power and anger, Fanon makes clear the economic and psychological degradation inflicted by imperialism. It was Fanon, himself a psychotherapist, who exposed the connection between colonial war and mental disease, who showed how the fight for freedom must be combined with building a national culture, and who showed the way ahead, through revolutionary violence, to socialism. Many of the great calls to arms from the era of decolonization are now of purely historical interest, yet this passionate analysis of the relations between the great powers and the 'Third World' is just as illuminating about the world we live in today. Frantz Fanon (1925-61) was a Martinique-born French author essayist, psychoanalyst, and revolutionary. Fanon was a supporter of the Algerian struggle for independence from French rule, and became a member of the Algerian National Liberation Front. He was perhaps the preeminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades. If you enjoyed "The Wretched of the Earth", you might like Edward Said's "Orientalism", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics". "In clear language, in words that can only have been written in the cool heat of rage, he showed us the internal theatre of racism". ("Independent").
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Frantz Fanon (1925-61) was a Martinique-born black psychiatrist and anticolonialist intellectual; The Wretched of the Earth is considered by many to be one of the canonical books on the worldwide black liberation struggles of the 1960s. Within a Marxist framework, using a cutting and nonsentimental writing style, Fanon draws upon his horrific experiences working in Algeria during its war of independence against France. He addresses the role of violence in decolonization and the challenges of political organization and the class collisions and questions of cultural hegemony in the creation and maintenance of a new country's national consciousness. As Fanon eloquently writes, "[T]he unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."

Although socialism has seemingly collapsed in the years since Fanon's work was first published, there is much in his look into the political, racial, and social psyche of the ever-emerging Third World that still rings true at the cusp of a new century. --Eugene Holley, Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The writing of Malcolm X or Eldridge Cleaver or Amiri Baraka or the Black Panther leaders reveals how profoundly they have been moved by the thoughts of Frantz Fanon." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
National liberation, national renaissance, the restoration of nationhood to the people, commonwealth: whatever may be the headings used or the new formulas introduced, decolonization is always a violent phenomenon. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read March 5 2004
This is a very useful book to anybody interested in understanding colonialism and its effects in Africa. Colonialism was a military project, and Fanon explained that clearly. Fanon does not shy away from suggesting the use of force, if necessary, to achieved freedom. But this book is not about the use of force/violence to achieve freedom, and should not be regarded as such. It is a book that explains western attitudes towards the colonized world, their willingness to use violence, their assault on African culture, and the curruption of African leaders after independence. Do not forget that independence came to Africa, after the French, the British and Belgians were given a clear warning about the fate that was awaiting them in other parts of Africa by the FLN (in Algeria), the MAU MAU movement (in Kenya), and the very aggressive movement for indepence in the Congo and Ghana. Europe was distoryed after World War II, and their armies could no longer sustain their military projects in Africa. This vulnerability was exploited by African leaders. That is why they failed in maintaining direct colonial control of their former colonies. When you ready this excellent material, you will appreciate Fanon's foresight:-his warning to Africans(and every colonized country)to take their destiny into their own hands: saying that every generation must out of relative obscurity, find its mission, fulfill it or betray it. A warning that most Africans ignored after independence. To anybody interested in the works of people like Dr. Walter Rodney, Aime Cesaire, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Basil Davidson, this book is a "Must Read". Please read other Fanon material: Toward African Revolution, Dying Colonism, Black Skin White Masks. Interesting reading! Every African must read Fanon's books!
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Fanon lays bare the day to day interactions of the oppressed and the oppressor,
reveiling the tragic symptoms and by-products of colonialism, such as the
belief that violence must be met with violence to liberate a nation. The
mindset of the oppressed and the culture of an oppressed people is written very
plain, universal language (thanks in some part, no doubt, to the translator)
and there are themes and ideas in this book that ring true today because of
this style of writing.
Fanon writes about the need for having a "national culture" and the promotion
of national identity in order to provide a cohesion to people exiting
colonialism into the more covertly cruel world of free markets, total
independence and possibly neo-colonialism (such as what goes on in a lot of the
poorer Asian, African and South American countries today with sweatshops,
plantations and diamond mining). This idea that a national unity and recognized
common interest is not an option, it's totally necessary, if a group of people
wants to truly take power for themselves can be applied to all types of groups
today: gay people, the impoverished, the political Left, those in occupied
countries, religious minorities worldwide, etc.
So why would I only give the book 3 stars? I feel that while a lot of the
philosophy in the book is timeless, it takes lot of wading through dated
accounts of 1960s African politics, Fanon's psychiatric conclusions (one-fifth
of the book is devoted to this) and some mediocre round-about philosophizing.
The back of the edition I read claimed that "The Wretched of the Earth" had
surpassed other books of the era about colonialism and become more than just a
historically interesting artifact.
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By A Customer
Those reviews that castigate Fanon for "glorifying violence" ought to be ignored. Fanon is writing, among other things, a phenomenology of anti-colonialism. It is meant neither as a recommendation nor a condemnation but as a description of the objective truth of a historical condition. That is, for Fanon reverse racist violent nationalism is a stage in the emergence of a political consiciousness that will eventually overcome and, indeed, renounce its own beginnings. What is remarkable is that people at present are so manifestly incapable of reading a dialctical unfolding such as this. The violence of the Algerian War had already largely taken place at the time of Fanon's writing and, let it be recalled, it was primarily the murder of Algerians by the French, for whom African imperialism is still a profitable if somewhat unsavory business.
While Fanon tracks the stages in the evolution of a radical anti-capitalist consciousness in the underdeveloped world, there is no question of his endorsing or advocating violence. One has only to read the final chapter on the psychological effects on both the colonizer and the colonized to see that Fanon is acutely aware of the brutality for all concerned of the Algerian War, even or, indeed, especially, for the oppressors themselves. There is certainly no question of his endorsing the indiscriminate horrors committed that were committed by the FLN against their oppressors.
The other thing, of course, that the petulant, anti-intellectual, ahistorical reactionaries who have shared their opinions here conveniently ignore is the violence inherent in the settler colonialism Fanon was addressing.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A medical psychiatrist, Fanon
His statement, not much Marx in it, was that both the tortured
and the torturers needed therapy. Read more
Published on July 7 2004 by Douglas S Gillman
1.0 out of 5 stars a wretched book
Fanon asserts that violence is necessary for colonized and opressed people to achieve liberation. Have none of the readers of this book ever heard of Gandhi or Martin Luther King? Read more
Published on April 29 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich...Timeless...Provocative
Most powerful and relevant book on the earth - read it, re read it and recommend it. It will change your outlook on the African continent or help you to see something not studied... Read more
Published on March 12 2003 by "sawyerj9"
4.0 out of 5 stars A good reference
A great backdrop for a perspective on colonialism. This book in some cases can be applied to many cultural issues today.
Published on Oct. 19 2002 by Clare Webb
4.0 out of 5 stars The Horde of Rats
I pulled the title of my review from page 130, which states, "This lumpenproletariat is like a horde of rats; you may kick them and throw stones at them, but despite your best... Read more
Published on May 2 2002 by JB
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way It Really Is
I read this book after finding it on the Rage Against the Machine reading list, and continue to find new depth and relevancy to it even after 5 readings. Read more
Published on April 9 2002 by Michael Hutchinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wretched of the Earth
Frantz Fanon dropped a gem when he wrote this book. It deals specifically with what he saw while living in Africa, a case of the native and the colonizer. Read more
Published on Nov. 18 2001 by C. Carter
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth is here
Reading this amazing book in 2001, the first fact that blew my mind was how relevant this book is in today's world, even though it was written in 1961. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2001 by nadav haber
4.0 out of 5 stars Colonialism from the other side
Fannon's Wretched of the Earth is an interesting look at the relationship between a colonized country and it's colonizer. Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by arye orona
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK CHANGES LIVES
Frantz Fanon was an extraordinary man. Passionate, charismatic, brave, deeply moral, profoundly intelligent and exceptionally perceptive and sensative. Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2001 by Rm Pithouse
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