Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Autobiography” as Want to Read:
An Autobiography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Autobiography

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  6,192 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Her own powerful story to 1972, told with warmth, brilliance, humor & conviction. The author, a political activist, reflects upon the people & incidents that have influenced her life & commitment to global liberation of the oppressed. ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 1st 1989 by International Publishers (first published September 1st 1974)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,192 ratings  ·  226 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of An Autobiography
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“Some of us, white and black, know how great a price has already been paid to bring into existence a new consciousness, a new people, an unprecedented nation. If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the murderers hired in our name. If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own—which it is—and render impassible with our bodies the corridor to the gas chamber. For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” - Letter from James Baldwin t ...more
Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Icon! self-liberation,courageous,intellectual,Champion of BPP movement..'Either you respect the life,struggles and contributions of Freedom Fighter of Angela D or you don't'....this is a must read (paperback!)
Rosemary Bloom
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in social justice
Shelves: favorites
A few years back, I was 17. I went with a boyfriend to visit his sister in Boulder to go skiing... lo and behold, we got there and I was sick. I was stuck in her house all weekend. Rummaging through her bookshelves, I found this. I read it in one day. I had never heard of Angela, nor much on the Black Panthers aside from what they touch upon in history classes. I was captivated by her life story, by her perseverance, by her fight against the unjust. The book is well-written and reads like fictio ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Angela Davis was a committed revolutionary without apology. She is forever associated with the Black Panthers and the effort to vindicate the Soledad Brothers. Having provided logistical support for an armed invasion of the court where the trial was taking place, she spent several years hiding from the FBI and then a few more in provisional solitary confinement during her trial. She was eventually acquitted by an all-white jury and went on to be a major figure in the American Communist party inc ...more
Tanya Matthews
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can't begin to express how much this book moved me. I wasn't even born when she began her political activism and only about 3 when she went on trial. All I really knew about Ms Davis was her Afro and that she fought for political and economic fairness for black people. This book has enlightened me to a very inspiring woman. I am somewhat ashamed that it took me until the age of 44 to read this book but I am so glad I finally did. I never knew she had done and accomplished so much. Never knew s ...more
MJ Beauchamp
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Words can not express the respect and admiration I have for Angela Davis... Woman of strength, courage, and power. I've been fortunate to hear her speak here in Montreal a few years back, not only once but on two separate occasions. Needless to say I was equally blown away both times and felt the luckiest person in the world, for what an honour... Her energy and presence are unlike anyone I've seen. She is human and genuine, a incomparable leader and such an inspiration - which is evident from a ...more
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend. It's amazing how many things in my life have come up to remind me of this book. That shit is still happening. People of color are getting murdered by police, prisoners are still tortured in jail, and the prison population is WAY more low-income African Americans than other demographics.

Four stars because it does present a simplified perspective. Important as that perspective is, it's not the only one. She goes through great pains to repeat the mantra that she couldn't get too u
Jul 27, 2013 added it
Shelves: memoir
This is 75% of a great book. When she's at her most searing-- as in Malcolm X's autobiography-- she's simply telling her story of racial discrimination, imprisonment, and McCarthyism.

But, unlike in the more self-critical narratives of Eldridge Cleaver, bell hooks, Carlos Bulosan, Malcolm X, and many other revolutionaries of color, I don't get the feeling that I'm hearing anything resembling the full story. Her analysis of hegemony is without nuance, and her taking of her experiences in Cuba at f
Hasan Makhzoum
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My admiration for this woman is infinite..

There is in Davis' autobiography an abundance of brilliant, poignant, provocative and witty expressions, analogies and metaphors in every page. Here is one funny sociological observation of so many others:

"Some years back, Black visitors to Birmingham had all of three post cards from which to choose if they wanted a souvenir of the Black section of the city. Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Parker High School.
Sarah Jaffe
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Good enough that I--though I know the results very, very well--was still tense during courtroom scenes and on the edge of my seat when the verdict was rendered. Most people know Angela Davis's story, but not nearly enough people read what she has written over the years.
For years I have been meaning to find out more about Angela Davis, and as so often happens, now that I've finally met her I cannot believe it took me so long—or that in all my reading, she's the first person to really address the whole problem instead of just parts. Lots of notes to share once I work through them.

February 2015, when I initially added the book to my TBR:

I was nearing the end of Brown Girl Dreaming as I got to work this morning, with Jacqueline Woodson talking about Angela Davis
Ré Cockrell
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's impossible to exaggerate the impact of this book on me.

I picked it up simply because I wanted to learn more about Angela Davis. I knew only that she had been associated with the Black Panthers, and that she'd fought for the freedom of political prisoners. Reading it, I learned that there was a lot more to her experience -- all of it extremely relevant today.

I found great personal meaning in her struggle with social class barriers, violence, and racism. Her insights about her political inv
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book blew me away and opened my eyes- peeling away more layers of my ignorance and exposing my privilege. It's not just a book. It left me with a renewed conviction to join the fight for absolute freedom of people who are oppressed, with no better example to go by. It is terribly sad to read of the accounts of police killing black people in 1970, especially in that it sounds hauntingly familiar about what is happening now in 2016. She tells of her countless experiences throughout her entire ...more
Apr 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A really inspiring account of Angela Davis' philosophical and political evolution into a revolutionary, militant Black Panther. Davis is one of the few activists that has successfully managed to balance her commitment to the overlapping causes of anti-racism, feminism, and communism and hearing the full story of how she blossomed into an American hero can be very thrilling. I remember have a strong urge to give my life to the cause immediately after reading it. One of my favorite parts of the bo ...more
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I started reading this autobiography I had to stop a moment and think about the ages Davis was when all these events were taking place and This autobiography was sobering to say the least Currently at ages 23-26 most women have extremely superficial or vanity laden thoughts At the same age Angela Davis was making history and She was one of the leaders and very few women of a national movement to liberate Black and Brown people alike I would love to meet Ms. Angela Davis (as I'm sure you wou ...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
What an amazing read. Davis touches on all of the "shelves" I've mentioned. It is an incredible look at her development as a young person into a militant philosopher and Black liberationist. Sickening, insightful, raging, transformative--her autobio captures so much. I highly recommend reading this.
Thankful Reader
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful beyond words. This autobiography is a call to action.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Angela Y. Davis is fucking amazing! Just a true warrior for justice and freedom for all peoples.
I have read quite a few of her books already - a few written after this book - so much of what is in these pages is information and stories I already know quite well. But that hardly lessens their impact for me, as I am a firm believer that there can never be enough reminders of the enduring struggle against the oppression of the white supremacist government of the USofA.
I have so much respect for A
Rei Avocado
This book fundamentally changed me as a communist, as a Brazilian mixed race black person, and as a human being. Angela Davis' unrelenting devoting to revolutionary change is not just inspiring but can also be used as an example to young revolutionaries who seek to change the world. Her attitude is both introspective (her self-criticism should be a lesson to all communists) and outwardly critical of the events and people around her.

Aside from the content, Davis' prose is clear and beautiful. Her
Tina Lee
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Sometimes dry but always convincing, Davis speaks straight from the trenches of class-struggle to tell her tale of an upbringing in "Bombingham" Alabama, her successful academic career, time in Europe, and transformation into a revolutionary and icon. Like all good revolutionaries, she skips over juicy details about love affairs or gossip, but she gives an inside look to the politics of the black panthers and moreover how difficult it was to pick a side when you were fighting for equality in the ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in American history
Starts off with Davis eluding the law when on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List and moves along swiftly. The middle section goes back to her childhood and is more of a memoir. I found this interesting except when she got into a lot of detail about in-fighting amongst two Black Panther organizations and other progressive groups. As a Southerner, I was surprised to see how much police brutality was perpetrated against Blacks in California. The books ends up with her trial and I liked reading about the ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Despite our radical differences in race, age,and sexual preference, Davis' account of her ongoing struggle to juggle theoretical convictions and academic passions with activist ones gave me great insight into my own. A must-read for anyone who loves to read and study but also conceives of activism as something that doesn't begin and end with an online petition.
Wendy Liu
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Angela Davis is brave as hell
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the "political autobiography" of a 26-year-old woman (which is the age Angela was at the time of her arrest and trial), this is a very readable 400 pages. Angela's analysis of the simplest things (especially aspects of the American legal and prison systems) is incisive and enlightening . . . which is why it is disappointing that she fails to critique Communism as it was actually practiced. In a passage about her trip behind the Berlin Wall, she claims East Germany's Communism taught the peop ...more
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An important historical record of life and times 1940-1974 Black American History.

If you read about the Civil Rights movement, the Black Liberation movement, The Black Panther Party, Malcolm X's autobiography; then Angela Davis - An Autobiography rates high in the Bibliography list of must-read books of the era.

It was an intense but very gratifying book to read. I recommend this very inspiring and courageous account of this period in her life where the gauntlet was thrown down; and how she won
Mar 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
I remembered as a child seeing news footage of Angela Yvonne Davis, and wondered what was it she did that was so wrong. As an adult, after I read her story--wonderfully written/edited by Toni Morrison--I chose to write a research paper about Ms. Davis for my college composition class. This book gave me a glimpse of who she was. Moreover, not only was I amazed to find out that I shared most of the same ideals as she, but found it interesting that "some" found her to be a threat. Today, I continue ...more
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Angela Davis writes a very honest and interesting autobiography of the now first half of her life. The book is beyond autobiography of an individual and provides accounts of social movements of Davis' time. Davis provides powerful critiques on the racist, classist, sexist capitalist state and prison system. I enjoyed most the descriptions of internal dynamics in the movements of which Davis was a part and of other less prominent people - cell block mates, those doing necessary "grunt" work, etc. ...more
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
I highly recommend reading this book. The backdrop of this book is the idea of revolution, the holding fast to your convictions and the struggle to live and thrive within systems designed to work against your survival...all relevant themes for meditation and reflection today. I appreciate the way she does not "perform" herself as the mythical "strong black woman" character, instead she delivers an honest, authentic snapshot of how her convictions drive her to show up and work for progress, howev ...more
Fantastic - having grown up in LA during the Civil Rights movement, I really appreciated this insider's view of what was going on in Watts (and America in general) during this turbulent time. In those days, the things you heard on the news on mainstream television reflected a strong bias against any kind of revolutionary activity.

Angela is one of my all-time heroes - and I don't really have heroes...
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
another book on my kick of reading about past struggles to learn something about dedication, burnout, and organizing.

i think calling this an autobiography is a misnomer, but she touches on that in the preface. regardless, it's an inspiring account and manifesto of sorts that i'm sure helped lay out a clear, logical, and radical anti-racist, anti-oppressive anti-sexist (and all the other anti-s that you think of) platform in it's day. i know it did for me.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Assata: An Autobiography
  • Revolutionary Suicide
  • Soul on Ice
  • Nigger
  • Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson
  • Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements
  • A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919
  • Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
  • Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton
  • Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment
  • Race Matters
  • The Mis-Education of the Negro
  • Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  • Live from Death Row
  • The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther
  • Olhos d'água
See similar books…
Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a nationally prominent activist and radical in the 1960s, as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement despite never being an official member of the party. Prisoner rights have been among her continuing inter ...more

News & Interviews

Did you set an extremely ambitious Reading Challenge goal back in January? And has this, uh, unprecedented year gotten completely in the way of...
11 likes · 3 comments
“I sank deep into the moment, husbanding this delight, hoarding it. For I knew it would be short-lived. Work. Struggle. Confrontation lay before us like a rock-strewn road. We would walk it ... But first the grass, the sun...and the people.” 0 likes
“A fines de agosto nuestra delegación, junto con la portorriqueña, que era más numerosa, subió a bordo de un carguero cubano en el que habríamos de cubrir la primera etapa de nuestro regreso, hasta las Antillas francesas, adonde el barco llevaba una carga de cemento. Al atardecer zarpamos de la bahía de Santiago. Cuando nos alejamos de la isla era ya noche cerrada, y no se veía la tierra ni el mar, pues no había luna. Nos instalamos y empezamos a orientarnos en el barco y, al igual que los portorriqueños que venían con nosotros, trabamos conversación con la tripulación. El capitán era un antiguo estudiante de Filosofía de veintiséis años, con quien me apresuré a hablar de nuestro común tema de estudio. Era su primer viaje al mando de aquel barco y, como nosotros, debía familiarizarse con él y con la tripulación. De pronto, cuando estábamos en alta mar, en plena oscuridad, un avión sobrevoló el barco a muy baja altitud y a gran velocidad. Antes de enterarme de lo que ocurría, el avión cruzó otra vez por encima de nosotros. Cuando Kendra y yo corríamos al puente para preguntar al capitán qué pasaba, un miembro de la tripulación nos explicó tranquilamente que se trataba de un acto hostil por parte de un portaaviones norteamericano de los que controlaban el bloqueo económico. Con sus luces, el portaaviones empezó a hacer señales a nuestro barco pidiéndole que se identificara y explicase su misión. Naturalmente, podían ver la bandera cubana; todo aquello no era más que el rutinario hostigamiento que habían de soportar los barcos cubanos cada vez que salían de sus aguas territoriales. Mediante señales, el barco cubano comunicó que, antes de identificarse, quería saber el nombre y la misión de quienes deseaban aquella información. Durante aquellos momentos una cierta diversión había acompañado al nerviosismo. Pero después, de pronto, no lejos del barco, un extraño y silencioso estallido de luz rompió la oscuridad de la noche. Al principio semejaba una nubecilla en forma de hongo, pero un segundo después pareció desplazarse directamente hacia nosotros. Yo me asusté tanto que no pregunté lo que ocurría; pensé que, si aquello era gas letal, no podríamos escapar. La nube de luz inundó el barco e iluminó toda la zona circundante como un sol de mediodía. Un miembro de la tripulación dijo entonces que seguramente se trataba de un nuevo proyectil luminoso que estaba siendo experimentado por Estados Unidos aprovechando el bloqueo. Por fin nos libramos de los militares norteamericanos y pudimos disfrutar durante unos días de la legendaria belleza del Caribe. Pasamos junto a Haití y Santo Domingo, países no tan hermosos desde el punto de vista político, y después el barco recibió instrucciones de atracar en Guadalupe. Aunque no me gustaba la idea de encargarme de las relaciones con los nativos de la isla, yo era la única persona a bordo que sabía francés, de modo que no tuve alternativa. Nuestra delegación llevaba muy poco equipaje, pero los portorriqueños traían varias cajas de libros que les habían regalado los cubanos para su librería de San Juan. Tuve la precaución de preguntar a los funcionarios de la aduana si se proponían inspeccionar todos los equipajes” 0 likes
More quotes…