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Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  534 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
New York Times best-selling author Cornel West is one of America’s most provocative and admired public intellectuals. Whether in the classroom, the streets, the prisons, or the church, Dr. West’s penetrating brilliance has been a bright beacon shining through the darkness for decades. Yet, as he points out in this new memoir, “I’ve never taken the time to focus on the inne ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 15th 2009 by SmileyBooks
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Apr 10, 2015 Ij rated it really liked it
Hit Kiss and Tell.
Apr 12, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it
I have very mixed feelings about the book and the man. "Brilliant" is a word that is thrown around a lot, but I don't think anyone would argue Cornel West is not brilliant. Clearly he has led a rich, distinguished and accomplished life. I was very impressed with the utmost love and respect he has for his parents and brother and sisters. West is generous with praise for the people he respects and it is easy to be seduced by this well read, knowledgeable man who can discourse on such a wide ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Phillip rated it really liked it
I love reading biographies of people that have made an impact on the world. Professor West has certainly made an impact. I knew from reading other books that this man had a lot of energy and an impressive work ethic due to his 150 plus lectures he gives a year (which doesn't count his lectures at Princeton).

There were are lot of interesting tidbits in this book regarding Professor West. First, this was a quick read for me. I started the book around 7pm and finished around midnight. I felt very
Pat Loughery
Nov 15, 2010 Pat Loughery rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Brother West's memoir. It starts out stronger than it finishes, though; the stories of West's formative years and early years as a student are piercing. The later stories of his teaching career and failed relationships are less gripping, and West seems to shrug off things that I would love to see more depth of insight in. It does make me want to delve further into Brother West's writing, and in that way the memoir has done its job.
I wouldn't have picked this book up on my own, but I really enjoyed it. West has a beautiful way with words.
Shiri Watkins
Oct 03, 2011 Shiri Watkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in knowing how Cornel West came to be Cornel West.
Shelves: autobiographies
Prior to this book, I knew Cornel West in theory. Now I feel as if I know him a little better in spirit and truth. Plainly put, he’s incredible. His journey has been noteworthy and exceedingly adventurous. Since I was so moved by his thoughts on various subjects, I will allow him to speak for himself. Do yourself a favor and add this book to your library.

p.41 On Identity:

“But the simple truth is that I’m a Christian bluesman in the life of the mind and a Christian jazzman in the world of ideas.”
Jan 07, 2016 Jeanne rated it it was ok
Brother West is a light and breezy memoir, full of name dropping (people, music, books). He is exuberant in his discussions of race, religion, philosophy, and music, with frequent morsels of wisdom sprinkled throughout.

Many people would enjoy West's book, although I got irritated by everyone being described in superlatives: his daughter's mother is described as "stunningly brilliant and beautiful," his ex-wife as "the love of my life, my precious wife," his girlfriend as "a warm and generous Jew
May 27, 2013 Eddie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: african-american
`Brother West' is a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of America's preeminent public intellectuals.

The memoir is a music-inspired journey, scripted with references to songs and lyrics throughout; unveiling not only Cornel West's unyielding passion for music but also providing the reader with cultural milestones.

We learn that, at a young age, Little Ronnie [West's middle name is Ronald] was a rebel...... but he was a rebel with a cause. He would bully the biggest boy in his class - who had
Dec 18, 2015 Byron rated it it was amazing
Much better than you'd think. Cornel West has had a falling out with his once-protege Michael Eric Dyson in the past few years, and part of Dyson's critique of West, as explained in a garbage article in the New Republic, is that West has hardly written anything in the past 20 years or so, and one of the few things he has published was this memoir, written with a guy who's known for ghostwriting hacky autobiographies of musicians. (I think West has written at least two books with this guy. Or am ...more
This is the first Cornel West book that I've finished. I've tried others, but I'm just not that smart, not that able to wrap my head around the ideas that he articulates so easily, even while I agree with most of the things I've heard him say. I think the book was able to capture his conversational voice well and I enjoyed finding out more about his path. A bit heavy on the "blues" and "Christianity" themes for some, and for me at times. Very enjoyable nevertheless.
Oct 06, 2009 Ebadur rated it it was amazing
what a life, what a mind
Dec 23, 2010 Christina rated it really liked it
Cornel West is a very intellectual and passionate man who lives his life the way he wants; out loud and loving life. As the product of Ivy League education, he no doubt possesses incredible knowledge and instills the value of education in the students he teaches.

His memoir shared a piece of his life from childhood to present, discussing his journey and sharing/baring his soul for all to see. He talked of his failed relationships, his children, his immediate family, his career, and his love of m
Maughn Gregory
I've defined 'wisdom books' as ones that both make you want to live a better life and also show you how. This is a very wise book on both counts, and particularly meaningful for philosophers of education. West's explanations, exhortations and illustrations of Socratic and prophetic pedagogy are invaluable. I was moved over and over again by passages like:

"Justice is what love looks like in public, just as deep democracy is what justice looks like in practice. When you love people, you hate the f
Big Mike Lewis
Aug 05, 2010 Big Mike Lewis rated it it was ok
I know many people in Christian circles who elevate West as an icon of Christianity. I have a hard time with that. His memoir only solidifies what I thought about him.

I found myself skimming parts to get through his diatribes on music and how he is a Christian Bluesman and Jazzman which doesn't make sense. By the end I found West hard to relate to and hard to understand how he can claim Christ and at the same time continue to elevate people who mistreat Christ and His Word. His stories at times
Curtis Mitchell
Jan 01, 2010 Curtis Mitchell rated it really liked it
Prior to reading this memoir, I had a respect for Brother West, his great command of the English language, and ability poetically render abstract ideas in an improvisatory way.

Now, that I have read this memoir, that respect remains in-tact and reinforced by my understanding of his influences - none greater than Christ.

His story is told as I imagine an intimate interview might cause it to unfold. His voice painted vivid pictures of times and events that I have only witnessed secondhand.

May 03, 2011 Robertkaz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First heard Cornel West on the Matrix "philosophers" commentary, which is one of the ways to enjoy the trilogy (it's admittedly a deep watch otherwise, and easy to miss things). West has a very distinctive way of talking which is replicated in this book to an extent, so if you're not prepared for it, it can be off-putting. But having heard him speak previously, it was a pleasure to read the book in the style it was written.

That being said, this provides a very nice view from West's eyes growing
Courtney Deberry
May 30, 2013 Courtney Deberry rated it it was amazing
The name Cornel West has often touched my ears but only in listening to his story was I able to absorb the essence of the man. I found his memoir to be easy to read and written in a conversational tone. Despite his extension education, his memoir maintained a down home feel that made his story functional and easy to digest. To have delved so deeply into the sea of intellectualism and still maintained his faith is truly an inspiration. Like most memoirs, readers should keep in mind that it is a ...more
Mar 04, 2012 JJ rated it really liked it
Brother West is clearly an awesome orator and writer. His prose is incredible. I got a few new quotes I love out of it and gained insight into the man. I loved that his use of 'brother' and 'sister' extends far past any familial, cultural, ethnic, or political boundary. He is a bit egotistical, self aggrandizing and name droppy, but most people at his level of academic celebrity are. Plus the people he is talking about are awesome. This book took me longer to read than it should have; I had keep ...more
Aug 06, 2015 Kajah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read. Sometimes it was profoundly annoying but I mostly found it enjoyable because you get a glimpse of West's personal life, and I like West both as a philosopher and as a public personality. West cowrote this apparently to make the language as approachable a possible. Much of the events here aren't delved into very deeply but West's omissions are as telling as his admissions, and though there is much name-dropping and self-aggrandizement, there is also much that comes across ...more
Jacob Robertson
Jun 18, 2016 Jacob Robertson rated it it was amazing
This riveting memoir is a wealth of references, names, positivity, and inspiration. Thinking it was his most popular academic text, "Race Matters," I accidentally bought this book at a Borders going out of business sale in 2009. I may have returned to teaching then and there had I immediately read, "Brother West, Living and Loving Out Loud," and caught his infectious enthusiasm for the calling. I now hear the calling louder than ever and I'm very grateful for this fascinating and invigorating ...more
Oct 03, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I was hoping for something more political and less anecdoty. If you want that, I'd check out Race Matters by the same author. Having said that, I really admire Brother West's courage, commitment and convictions and enjoyed hearing about how his life and attitudes were shaped. He is a strong moral and prophetic voice in America's political discussion and a fierce and loving critic of our society.

Be sure to check out his radio show with Tavis Smiley, if you haven't yet. www.smileyandwest.
Johnny Jones
Jul 22, 2011 Johnny Jones rated it liked it
after an extended hiatus from writing/publishing, a memoir was not the work expected from Brother West. Needless 2say, more than a few academics were annoyed by this output. As an aspiring writer/intellectual, I found this piece helpful considering the fact that I have a Cornel West Reader in my stacks. This text is a bit of an orientation into reading the jack-leg public intellectual bluesman. However, the book's co-writer David Ritz doesn't make West nearly as intriguing and tragic as Marvin ...more
Sam Motes
Dec 30, 2014 Sam Motes rated it it was amazing
A very approachable read giving insight into the mind of Dr West. Definitely a tragicomic tail of an athletic youth who walked away from his talent to pursue his calling of teaching. He excelled in his calling in academia at the expense of his domestic life and failed marriages. I loved the Beckett quote "Try Again. Fail again. Fail better" that defines his drive to succeed in love and in his calling. One of the great intellectuals of our time with a true message to hear of love and service for ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Babydoll rated it really liked it
Those who are fans of Cornel West should not be disappointed by the result of his memoir. West did a remarkable job portraying his life with a musical undertone throughout the entire book. He takes the reader on an unprohibited journey through his life as a "bluesman". West is able to exhibit to the reader his endearing love for his family, his passion for educating, and the difficulties he experiences with women. I was thoroughly pleased with this book, and encourage all to read it.
Nov 29, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
I liked this book. It was fascinating to hear about his life, though I didn’t think it was an incredibly deep or analytical look at that life....but interesting nonetheless. His references to his many wives and relationships and poor handling of money are an interesting contrast to his obvious brilliance. I found it to be a quick and interesting read - if for nothing else for a look at one man’s navigation of life in this old world.
Aug 10, 2010 Joe rated it it was amazing
A great look at the man behind the myth; like a few other autobiographies I've read, reading about Cornel West's warts and faults just made me appreciate him and what he's accomplished more. It's so neat to see where he's coming from, though it could do with a bit more detail on some of those fronts. I'm looking forward now to going back and reading and re-reading some of his other works. Such an amazing guy.
Jd Hysong
Oct 26, 2013 Jd Hysong rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-492
This was an engaging read with Dr. Cornell West. He is one of the best contemporary philosophers. It is gut wrenching to see the struggles that he goes thru. I was disheartened to see him make the same mistakes over and over, though. I guess that is part of the compelling part of the story, that someone who appears larger than life is fallable just like you or me.
May 03, 2011 Jen rated it liked it
I really like Cornel West - as a person. You have to like the kind of person where you need a paper and pen when you listen to him speak so you can write down words and look them up later. This book was a good read, to remind us that everyone is human - has their faults along with their strengths. A good read if you like Dr. West and would like to know more about his "real life".
Feb 26, 2013 Kiki rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will always be in my collection. I appreciate this man for being a proud and vocal Black man. I don't always agree with him but that could possibly be an important factor in my admiration for him. He makes me think and question everything I read, hear or see and for this I'm thankful. This book gives us a peek into his life, all of it and I felt encouraged afterwards.
Lorene Fisher
Feb 02, 2015 Lorene Fisher rated it it was amazing
This was one of the best books I have ever read! Cornel West is so inspiring and tell his story from assorted perspectives! If you are interested in race/culture, education, philosophy, spirituality in the workplace, travel, overcoming obstacles, difficult love life's, or leadership, then you will love this book!
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Cornel Ronald West is an American scholar and public intellectual. Formerly at Harvard University, West is currently a professor of Religion at Princeton. West says his intellectual contributions draw from such diverse traditions as the African American Baptist Church, Marxism, pragmatism, transcendentalism, and Anton Chekhov.
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“I must feel the fire of my soul so my intellectual blues can set others on fire.” 39 likes
“I'm a bluesman moving through a blues-soaked America, a blues-soaked world, a planet where catastrophe and celebration- joy and pain sit side by side. The blues started off in some field, some plantation, in some mind, in some imagination, in some heart. The blues blew over to the next plantation, and then the next state. The blues went south to north, got electrified and even sanctified. The blues got mixed up with jazz and gospel and rock and roll.” 18 likes
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