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The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
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's review
Jan 25, 2009

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Read in December, 2007 , read count: 1.5

Forgotten by many, one critic has characterized Fanon as the New Left influence that "refuses to die." That may be because he's a fighter, not a lover, and violence is his watchword.

Fanon isn't as much of an intellectual as some make him out, but that doesn't matter. The best of what he offers is rooted in direct observation--in some ways he acts as a scientist observing colonialism, trying to measure the degree and direction of all its damage.

The racism he endured, combined with the terrible Algerian situation, embittered Fanon to the degree that he effectively dismissed all nonviolence and became an apologist for the ultra-violence of the de-colonizing process. This can be tough for many 1st world readers to accept, but simply disagreeing with something doesn't make it go away or become less true. Fanon was able to bolster his argument with many painful observations from his time in Algeria.

Fanon himself is very interesting, and this book only gives us a small glimpse into his personal story. For more details, check out Frantz Fanon A Biography, considered one of the better biographies.

I believe, unlike many others, that while Fanon is still a critical piece of the liberation movement canon, this work is a bit less relevant today than it was in 1961. I am not well-versed enough in the subject, but I'd like to see a "sequel" or new edition that takes into account the failures of the FLN and Algeria--as well as liberation movements around the world. Perhaps someone else has written their own?
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Leah I think in our dealings with Iraq and the Middle East in general this book may be coming back around in terms of relevance. In fact, the Pentagon in 2003 sponsored viewings of Battle of Algiers and related it to Iraqi insurgency.

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