Soul on Ice
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Soul on Ice

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  6,643 ratings  ·  191 reviews
From the jacket: "In a collection of essays & open letters from California's Folsom State Prison, Eldridge Cleaver writes about the forces which shaped his life & which are currently molding our national destiny."
Letters from Prison
Blood of the Beast
Prelude to Love-Three Letters
White Woman, Black Man
About the Author
Hardcover, 227 pages
Published 1968 by Ramparts/McGraw-Hill (NY et al.)
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This book is one of the several books I planned on reading to help fill in some of the woeful gaps in my knowledge of the Civil Rights movement. I now know more about Eldridge Cleaver through his collection of short essays, covering diverse topics such as Muhammed Ali, Malcolm X, the sexual politics of race, war and politics, from Soul on Ice.

Cleaver’s writing is extremely infuriating yet it’s hard to stop reading. Cleaver’s views are so old-fashioned, homophobic, and misogynistic and, at times,...more
Dec 28, 2008 Alan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: White people.
Recommended to Alan by: White people.
Eldridge Cleaver, aside from being Minister of Information for the Black Panthers, was one of the world's true fucking freaks. A serial rapist and homophobe--"homosexuality is a disease, like baby rape or the deisire to be president of General Motors"--he also happens to be freakishly brilliant. He also seems to be one of those rare few who, forced by some explosive admixture of clarity, feeling, and a bizarre kind of honor, live out in their bodies the physical logic of their ideas.

If the 60s...more
Let me begin by saying that when I read this book, I was very young. A lot of what I learned with this reading, was admittedly violent and based in misogyny. But everything I learned here was so different from anything my parents, church, and school taught that it sent me looking into all kinds of other "missions".

As a result of reading this book, I have also read THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, MEIN KAMPF, WHY DO WHITE GUYS HAVE ALL THE FUN, THE CLANSMAN, and THE LEOPARD'S SPOTS (to name a few...more
This is absolutely one of the the most overrated books of all time. Soul on Ice is a collection of outdated essays, along with a few love letters to his attorney written while Cleaver was serving time for being a serial rapist. Cleaver shows a poor understanding of the political workings of the elites, the reasons why many middle and working class whites are "racists", and virtually every other thing he opens his mouth on with one major exception. His observations about the disturbing mental and...more
Jan Rice
I looked for this book yesterday, and I found it where I remembered it as having been. That in itself is a small miracle. Usually a decision to look for a book is the kiss of death as far as finding it. Typically I will then find the book six months or a couple of years later when looking for another one. As you can imagine I don't have much of a shelving system. But this one was where it should have been. Maybe more than a small miracle. We moved into this house in 1977 but the room where the b...more
Miles Winston
I feel compelled to try to negate the overwhelmingly negative atmosphere on this page of Goodreads reviews, and to try to do so as convincingly as one person can amidst such abundant ignorance. There is a lot of whining, derision, mockery, and whatever going on here, and it simply does the book one grave injustice after another. This is not a children's book, or even one for young adults, so if you approach this book set in an immature frame of mind, set in your own conception of how the world i...more
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 AJ Griffin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: your grandparents
Step Two in my attempts to not be a racial invalid. This book, which if I remember correctly was mostly written in prison from a rape conviction, does not do much to promote the "we're really all the same" attitude; in my naivety, I was probably surprised to hear this coming from a black guy. It was undoubtedly also the first time I heard negative opinions of The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. from someone who wasn't a certified white supremacist.

Mr. Cleaver makes no attempt to smooth o...more
Kann man bei Künstlern das Werk von der Person trennen? Ich denke nicht, denn das eine bedingt das andere, das Werk ist Ausdruck der Persönlichkeit, und man macht es sich zu einfach, wenn man nur die schönen Seiten sehen will. Denn oft macht genau diese Zwiespältigkeit den Reiz einer Person aus - die dunklen Seiten an ihnen, die sie ausleben, zeigen uns die Komplexität des Lebens und der Seele. Viele Rezensenten gehen auf diesen Aspekt ein, und fragen, warum eine so "böse" Person w...more
Michael Burnam-fink
This book is incendiary, a Molotov cocktail lobbed into the unstill and unorganized masses of Black America, urging them to cast off their chains, regain their bodies, their minds, and burn White American Power to the ground. Written in the early 60s in Folsom Prison, Cleaver makes a moral case for Revolution (with a big R) and a tactical case for hatred, for blood&sex&violence joined together to break down everything stultifying and corrupt. The thesis is one third Marx, one third Freud...more
Soul on Ice had me gripped to the edge of my seat. I was in awe of his writing, initially near to torn apart reading this man scraping the bottom of his soul saying ‘here’s who I am, what I think, how I think, and more importantly, how I came to think.’ The next thing I know, I’m sorely humored (and amazed) by the sophisticated but surly way he phrases, and then positions his arguments. Generally, this is not the best way to win arguments. But it does grab attention, and I must contend, make for...more
I've never liked Eldridge Cleaver.

There's a fascinating anecdote in the Wikipedia article about Cleaver: It claims that he applied for a technical writer position at Apple Computer in 1980; his resume listed a single publication, this book. Apple's documentation staff had read the book, evidently didn't want to work with a sociopath, and therefore declined to hire him.
It's a mixed bag -- like Cleaver's life, like anyone's life, like America's history, like any history. These essays are polemical and personal. Some struck me hard and resonated, like "The White Race and Its Heroes" and some struck me as funny and overdone or half-baked, like "The Primeval Mitosis". As others have indicated, a deep confusion resides here; Cleaver repeatedly denigrates James Baldwin, his apparent overriding reason being Baldwin's sexuality, while praising Norman Mailer, who appea...more
Michael Strode
Soul On Ice is the seminal collection of social criticism by Eldridge Cleaver framing his observance of the drastic transformation occurring during the late 60's as nonviolent civil disobedience gave rise to a vitriolic demand for Black Power. He was possessed of a rich, raw eloquence and the ability to manipulate profanity as a form of punctuation. Cleaver epitomized a form of thought leadership manifesting itself in this whirlwind period of Black radicalism which had wrestled ideological domin...more
I picked this up this summer from one of those carts of old middle school library books that they give away for free to bummy senior citizens and single mothers. My Kindle was busted (planned obsolescence, I'm sure), and it took me a while to save up the $60 for a new one. That's where my life is.

The fact that they once carried this in a middle school library just goes to show how far this country has fallen -- though it doesn't look like anyone had actually read this copy in the 40 some-odd yea...more
Nathan Pearson
More timely/less dated than I expected, or than it should be, given the key issues (sex, ethnicity in America, how societal change happens) that Cleaver was addressing forty years ago. Incisive, thought-provoking, and personal -- all hallmarks of good writing -- and the idea of composing such a clear set of essays while in prison is particularly inspiring.
Theodore Guidry
The book can be bit mind numbing at some points. Eldridge isn't bashful in his language but as a close admirer is the 1960's and the civil rights movement I feel like it’s a necessary read for those who want to gain some insight into the movement and the Black Panthers as a whole. A once felon to the minister of information for the Black Panthers is only the surface level knowledge people usually know about Eldridge.He clearly respects Norman Mailer since he is referenced more than a couple of t...more
Well, while not really inspiring, I am glad that he was Eldridge Cleaver, not me. I hope he invested the proceeds from his autobiography in some good mutual funds.
This memoir turned my head around and around. Race, society, justice, education, anger. Humanity. Redemption? It's all in there. Cleaver's a badass.
Brutal, radical, deeply philosophical, and often sweepingly-poignant. I'm not sure if I would have wanted to been inside the mind of Eldridge Cleaver, but an impressive and thought-provoking mind it was. This is not your MLK, Jr. civil-rights activist. This book was written while Cleaver was serving time in Folsom Prison. Although I've heard this book referred to as an autobiography, it's much less that than it is a mind-wrenching poetic and philosophical treatise on race relations in America, a...more
Um, other than the unfortunate homophobia and kinda-crazy rambling he does near the end, Eldridge Cleaver is right on target.
Displaced hatred/violence defined, so now I understand it better.
Dec 21, 2008 Carrie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
mentioned in I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE...looks interesting
Dash Williams
2 stars seem too few, 3 stars feels too generous.
Soul On Ice is a memoir and collection of essays by Eldridge Cleaver. Originally written in Folsom State Prison in 1965, and published three years later in 1968.

Mr. Cleaver is certainly candid in his essays. He does not hold back and is nothing but brutally honest. I read this book through his eyes and I found his point of view interesting and enlightening. He tossed a few views out there I never really thought about or questioned. This was a turbulent time in our nations history - racial tensi...more
David Ward
Soul On Ice by Eldridge Cleaver (Dell 1968) (301.45196)is a collection of letters, musings, and other documents committed to paper in 1965 by one Eldridge Cleaver which was published in book form in 1968. He was a misogynist and an enigma in the 1960's at the height of his fame. Cleaver became notorious as the "Minister of Information" of the Black Panther party. A true homophobe, he espoused rape as a "revolutionary act;" in fact Soul On Ice was written while Cleaver was serving time in Folsom...more
I should feel guiltier about not liking this book, I suppose, but I don't think that would be fair.

A large portion of the book's latter subject matter consists of an idea that a partition between the world of the white man and the world of the black man can be adequately represented, in short, by saying that the white man assigned the black man the status of being representative of the Body (capitalization as it appears in the book) while the white man appoints himself as a personification of th...more
i read part of this and put it down for over a year. just picked it up last week and finished it finally.

it's not easy to talk about soul on ice. cleaver wrote it from prison in the mid-1960s and he does give a truly insightful, often brilliant look into the civil rights movement and his view of the machine of society and racial/class hierarchy.

basic plot aside, the book alternates between a beautifully written examination of oppression and sheer ugliness. when cleaver focuses on power structur...more
Bill Littell
Reading this book was an eye-opening experience. Eldridge Cleaver is a complex and sophisticated thinker who was part of the Black Panther Movement in the '60s and '70s as Information Minister. This collection of "essays" represents a wide range of topics from love letters to a reflection on Malcolm X's assassination to an analysis of the influence of black music on white culture. Even this little list doesn't get to the depth and range of Cleaver's intellect.

Like all great writers, it's imposs...more
James Brandon
James Brandon
AP English, Period 4
Soul On Ice Review

Born, raised and living in one of the most tumultous periods of race relations the United States has ever seen, Eldridge Cleaver was sentenced to ten years for rape and assault (with intent to murder). Comprised essentially of essays and letters, his book Soul On Ice serves as more than a cornerstone of black revolutionary literature – it is an unadulterated look into the black mind. Additionally, it is an uncensored journey through the...more
Nancy Oakes
I think that you have to read and consider this book as a product of its times (originally published in 1968). I mean, everyone who cares knows that Eldridge Cleaver went on to become a member of the Mormon church (although he wasn't very active), then dinked with some other religious groups, merged with the right wing, ran for the Senate as a Republican, and supported Reagan for president. So -- people change. But at the time this book was written, Cleaver was an angry man, and this book reflec...more
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Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, better known as Eldridge Cleaver, was a writer and political activist who became an early leader of the Black Panther Party. His book Soul On Ice is a collection of essays.
More about Eldridge Cleaver...
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“I know that sometimes people fake on each other out of genuine motives to hold onto the object of their tenderest feelings. They see themselves as so inadequate that they feel forced to wear a mask in order to continuously impress the other. I do not want to "hold" you, I want you to "stay" out of your own need for me.” 30 likes
“Ah, what sights and sounds and pain lie beneath that mist. And we had thought that our hard climb out of that cruel valley led to some cool, green and peaceful, sunlit place---but it's all jungle here, a wild and savage wilderness that's overrun with ruins. But put on your crown, my Queen, and we will build a New City on these ruins.” 5 likes
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