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An Autobiography

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  7,583 ratings  ·  366 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.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published March 1st 1989 by International Publishers (first published September 1st 1974)
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Harrison Meek i think its a good and eye opening thing to read, especially while young. maybe look through it first and warn them about anything that may be intense…morei think its a good and eye opening thing to read, especially while young. maybe look through it first and warn them about anything that may be intense for them, but if they feel strongly about it, they should be able to read it

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 ·  7,583 ratings  ·  366 reviews

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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
In the preface of this book Angela Davis writes about what she considers to be her non-uniqueness. She admits that by the very act of writing this biography she is assuming a posture of difference, a stance that might elevate her above her other black comrades.

I felt that such a book might end up obscuring the most essential fact: the forces that have made my life what it is are the very same forces that have shaped and misshaped the lives of millions of my people.

Of the many instances she stunn
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!) ...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
Rosemary Bloom
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Natalie  ~ The Biblioholic
Sep 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
This was but a glimpse into the life of one of the most pivotal and prolific activists in the world and it packed one heck of a punch. I loved that Ms. Davis revealed her vulnerabilities, her doubts, her growth, her learning, and eventually her stance. She didn't just spout rhetoric — this book was full of her strengths and her flaws, her ups and her downs, her rise and her falls. What an incredible woman!

I was transported to Birmingham in the late 40's and early 50's, experiencing the blight th
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
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. ...more
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.
Erik Graff
Sep 18, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Well written, Davis' first autobiography, written while she was in her early thirties, begins with her first lengthy imprisonment on charges of conspiracy, murder and kidnapping, and ends with her acquittal. In the meantime she details much of her early life in Birmingham and in academe with a substantial account of her first trip to Cuba. The focus of the book, however, is on the U.S. criminal justice system, our jails and prisons, her experiences in them, and the unequal treatment of minoritie ...more
Oct 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Nah jokes aside Angela Davis is an internationalist hero. Just read the book dude
Feb 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So glad I read this. Angela Davis is such a good writer, this reads as powerfully today as it must have when it was first published. Part of what makes this book worth reading all these years later is the author's determination to think beyond her own story, and beyond immediate issues, and really focus on connecting with the larger struggles that will really make change. She's been working away at them ever since, and still carries on. I had some concern that the book would seem extremely dated ...more
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
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recs, favorites
I wasn't expecting to be unable to put this book down. I absolutely loved Angela Davis' narrative voice, the way she hooks you in, easy to comprehend but not simple or lacking nuance in any way, and the genius structure of the book, putting us in the present moment of the narrative before taking us back to her early adolescence and educational journey that led to her full-time activist work... each section containing a thought-provoking epigraph and metaphorical title that I found myself returni ...more
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. ...more
Thankful Reader
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful beyond words. This autobiography is a call to action.
Wendy Liu
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
Angela Davis is brave as hell
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
Mar 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a story. And this memoir only traces the first thirty years of her life. Angela Davis is an indomitable Black Woman who strived for social justice and shied away from becoming the face of a movement, but ended up embodying it regardless. She made me want to drop my 9-5 job to pick up political philosophy in Frankfurt, organise grassroots mobilisation to liberate political prisoners and to stick to my guns against all odds (figurative guns). This is the only book I've read in March (my atten ...more
Gabriel 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
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. ...more
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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

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