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Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History
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Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History

3.50  ·  Rating Details  ·  141 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Not Out of Africa has sparked widespread debate over the teaching of revisionist history in schools and colleges. Was Socrates black? Did Aristotle steal his ideas from the library in Alexandria? Do we owe the underlying tenets of our democratic civilization to the Africans? Mary Lefkowitz explains why politically motivated histories of the ancient world are being written
Paperback, 297 pages
Published 1996 by Basic Books
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Mike (the Paladin)
***I read this some years ago and just found some egregious typos and "speed typing" errors. So I corrected them. Sorry.

Not a bad book... as far as I can see it falls into the "mountain out of a molehill" school. Refuting some pop-culture claims that became prevalent a few years ago it does a good job, but I suppose I was constantly asking "so what?"

Yes the author does a good job but frankly I was never that worried about whether or not Plato (or Cleopatra or others)were "African" (I mean to be
This book handles the factual issues very well, tracing and explaining how certain misconceptions about Graeco-Roman history evolved, but I was disappointed by the concluding remarks. I know there are studies on classics and colonialism out there; instead of invoking holocaust deniers (as Bernal said in his response to the book, "to put this massively documented event, which took place in her and my life time, on the same plane as the reconstruction of the murky origins of Greek civilization ove ...more
Hugh Henry
Nov 30, 2007 Hugh Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teachers baffled by Afrocentrism
Shelves: academic
As a graduate student of history, I hadn't given Afrocentrism a second thought until a fellow student produced the book Black Athena and began expounding the thefts Aristotle had made from the library in Alexandria. Clearly, only a classicist could explain this phenomenal belief of historical larceny and cover-up.
Here you can learn where the bodies are buried. Lefkowitz is a professor specializing in ancient Mediterranean culture, so she is able to explain what evidence supports and refutes the
For centuries and centuries every nation to have emerged in Europe has proudly claimed to be the heir of Greece and Rome. Western law, art, philosophy, military theory, political structure, etc. are all combined into some gleaming baton that the ancients have handed off to empire after empire in succession. Drawing (often haphazard) parallels between Rome/Greece and [insert name of one's own country] has been a lasting theme for many authors.

If you were schooled in Europe or one of the many plac
Jan 21, 2008 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Mary Lefkowitz looks at some of the claims made by revisionist Afro-centric writers, and shows how these claims misrepresent the historical record. She focuses on the most extreme sorts of claims that attempt to completely rewrite history giving Africa credit for _everything_, which somewhat understandly grew in response to racist denials that Africa deserves credit for _anything_.

It is unfortunate that some Afro-centrists focus so much on the alleged African origins of Western civilization. In
Rogerio da Costa
O livro de Lefkowitz,como ela mesma assevera,nasceu de suas experiências com alunos que vinham de cadeiras de estudos étnicos na universidade nas quais defendia-se a desconfiança em relação aos relatos históricos usuais sobre as realizações intelectuais dos gregos em nome da correção de uma suposta injustiça histórica feita aos egípcios (aí entendidos simplesmente como "africanos").

O centro da tese dos chamados "afrocentristas" é a de que os historiadores europeus brancos sistematicamente escond
Michael Connolly
This book is a criticism of afrocentrism, which is an academic phenomenon, where African civilizations are given too much credit for the development of European civilization. Afrocentrists have a political agenda, they are not objective scholars.

Noted Afrocentrists
• Molefi Kete Asante
• Martin Bernal
• John Henrik Clarke
• Cheikh Anta Diop
• Marcus Mosiah Garvey
• Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan
• Joel A. Rogers

Mystical Egypt
The author uses the term Mystical Egypt to mean what the ancient Greek
David Nichols
Jun 19, 2011 David Nichols rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This book began as a New Republic review essay of Bernal's BLACK ATHENA, which Lefkowitz later expanded into the history of a peculiar and durable idea: that the early Egyptians were the progenitors of Western culture and religion, and the possessors of deep wisdom and arcane knowledge. It was a view promoted by the Hellenic-era Greeks themselves, revived in Europe during the Renaissance, and imported into the modern era by the Masons. (African-American Freemasons, Lefkowitz observers, then impa ...more
John Nelson
Mar 20, 2016 John Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in classical history or contemporary culture wars.
In the culture wars over the past 30 years or so, the left wing has been occupied by two dissimilar forces - those who want to blame every possible shortcoming in human nature on Western Civilization, and those who prefer to give the credit for Western Civilization's achievements to favored, non-western cultures. The "Afrocentrist" movement in classical studies - which claims that ancient Egyptians were black and that they originated all philosophy and science, which subsequently was copied or e ...more
Jean Piriou
Oct 11, 2014 Jean Piriou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is sad that Lefkowitz and other scholars have had to take time away from their scholarship, in which they were trained (unlike Bernal, trained in Chinese history and language) to refute a provocative and in some ways insightful inquiry into ancient Greece's indebtedness to Egyptian and Semitic cultures from the Southeast Mediterranean. However, the American Academy does suffer from fads, and Bernal began publishing BA just as the Culture Wars were waxing hard. Consequently, he capitalized on ...more
C. Derick
Jun 29, 2014 C. Derick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It some major ways this book seems dated since the form of Afrocentrism it critiques seems to have little cache in the academy now. Furthermore, the epilogue on personal attacks also seems entirely unsurprising. The information is interesting and mostly valid--indeed, it was unaware how much some of the more conspiracy-seeming-forms of Afrocentrism were based on Hermeticism and Free Masonry mythology being valid. As Lefkowitz points out herself, this is a very Eurocentric view of African and Egy ...more
Mark Geise
May 02, 2015 Mark Geise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was very good. I've heard from a few different people throughout my life the claims that Greece "stole" from Egypt or that Egypt had a much more significant role on Greece than our history books tell us. Their claims always sounded outlandish and I never really believed them, but I never delved further into the issue. The people who have made these claims have been driven by some race-based, extreme ideology, so I've taken all of their claims with a huge grain of salt.

Lefkowitz does a great
Jennifer Povey
I read this a while ago, but just want to point out that I don't agree with Lefkowitz's statements...she's countering one politican viewpoint with another.
Felicity Cheng
Apr 23, 2014 Felicity Cheng rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So persuasive it makes me feel kind of sick, but extremely well written and supported - she is a mistress of words. I don't know who to support
Feb 11, 2015 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A demolition of the teachings of Afrocentrists.
Nov 03, 2013 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the most entertaining read in the world, but attains its objectives (to disprove various unreasoned claims of "Afrocentric" extremists, mostly concerning the roots of Greek culture) with reams of facts which efficiently whittle away at such claims. Someone who is on the fence about such issues should find them highly persuasive.
Nick Wallace
A+ for the subject matter (no, Socrates was not black and Aristotle didn't steal his knowledge from the not-yet-built Library of Alexandria), C- for pointing out how right you are in a book most likely to be bought by people who agree with you in the first place.
Jan 23, 2011 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Appealing mythologies about the past bring satisfaction in the short run, but in the end they damage the very cause they are intended to promote. The events of this century have shown that it is dangerous to allow propaganda to usurp historical truth.
Lee Ann
Jun 24, 2009 Lee Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Extremely good refutation of the intellectual fads of the academy. American universities should be embarrassed that this book had to be written. Lefkowitz strngly defends historical truth from PC fiction. A must for ancient history buffs.
Feb 24, 2008 Colin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scholarly-works
A moderate refutation of Martin Bernal's "Black Athena" which basically claims that all of Western civilization was "stolen" somehow from Africa. Worth reading if you're into the Black Athena controversy.
It's a good piece of academia against the drivel that comes out from Howard U. and the Nation of Islam.
Jewell marked it as to-read
Apr 28, 2016
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Ethan S. marked it as to-read
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Norma J Fenves rated it it was ok
Apr 15, 2016
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Apr 14, 2016
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Mary R. Lefkowitz (born 1935) is an American classical scholar and Professor Emerita of Classical Studies at Wellesley College. She is best known to non-Classicists for her anti-Afrocentrism book, Not Out of Africa (1996).

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