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Soul on Ice

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  11,939 ratings  ·  304 reviews
The now-classic memoir that shocked, outraged, and ultimately changed the way America looked at the civil rights movement and the black experience.

By turns shocking and lyrical, unblinking and raw, the searingly honest memoirs of Eldridge Cleaver are a testament to his unique place in American history. Cleaver writes in Soul on Ice, "I'm perfectly aware that I'm in prison,
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Paperback, 242 pages
Published January 12th 1999 by Delta (first published 1968)
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3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,939 ratings  ·  304 reviews


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Rowena
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-american
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,
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Alan
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Cwn_annwn_13
Dec 13, 2008 rated it liked it
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 Soul on Ice is a collection of outdated essays, along with a few love letters to his attorney written while Cleaver was serving time for being a serial rapist.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
Gail
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
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Miles Winston
Apr 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Mykie
I had to be very careful with this review because I had to remember that I was reviewing the book and not assessing Eldridge Cleaver as a person. But in all fairness, I have to say the book was great. However, Eldridge Cleaver was a highly confused, highly disturbed, extremely awkward predator who later became a drug addicted contradiction. But I digress. The book. That's what I'm reviewing.

I have a hard time considering this an autobiography. Although it contains a wealth of exposure to many o
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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
AJ Griffin
Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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Czarny Pies
Jan 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Those anxious to face their youthful follies squarely.
Recommended to Czarny by: Rolling Stone.
I really should give this revolting book this book five stars, instead of one, in recognition of the fact that it demonstrated what idiocy I am capable of. I belong in other words to the generation that read this book, recommended it highly to everyone for two years and spent the next forty years being highly embarrassed about having done so.

Eldridge Cleaver was a serial rapist who said he enjoyed committing the act more with white women than black. He was also a homophobe and an advocate of vio
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Lark Benobi
As I read I felt in the presence of a man without doubt of any kind. I read it with a sense of loss, however: an awareness of lost momentum, lost years, lost confidence that something radically better was about to happen for African Americans, something I believe Cleaver thought when he wrote this work. There is no doubt that parts of this work are so deeply misogynistic and homophobic that it's difficult to defend my positive take on it. The review is not for the man or his beliefs as a whole, ...more
Jonathan Maas
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. Though some of the specifics of Eldridge Cleaver's ideology are a bit dated, his overall intellect shines through in this tome that shares uncomfortable truths about not only Western society, but modern society in general.

The best part of this is the story of Cleaver himself. Was a criminal until he was sent to prison, and then he started to read, and read and read. Bang - all of a sudden he's writing critiques of Norman Mailer (Author), James Baldwin and more - and his words have an
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Jacob
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
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.
Andrew Duret
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it

This book was really good. I loved it. At first, I didn’t know what to expect as I’m not accustomed to reading books where the book is a collection of essays or such. The last book I read like that was by James Baldwin. It was very refreshing, yet again initially I didn’t know what to expect.

This book was raw, but not too raw at the same time. A happy medium was provided in which Cleaver detailed many troubles and thoughts that plagued him and society alike during the civil rights era. I gues
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Helmut
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indignez-vous!
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
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Debbie
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Now I can say I've read it...
To be honest, I wasn't really sure what I was getting when I started listening to this audiobook. I knew Eldridge Cleaver was a Black Panther. But I didn't know if this was an autobiography or memoir or a book he wrote about the Black Power struggle of the 60's. It turns out it was kind of neither and both at the same time. The internet synopsis says they are a collection of essays he wrote during his time in jail prior to his involvement with the Black Panther Par
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George Huxley
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. Mr. Cleaver talks on politics, race relations, love, life, and his own experiences. Somehow, rather fantastically, also unacceptably in a way, this book has so much relevance in todays world. Mr. Cleaver speaks eloquently on the militarized police forces fighting against the civil rights protests and the Free Speech Movement. He talks about the divisions that have been formed in our political systems and between the races that inhabit the Earth. He shows us, basically, how ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, history
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
RYCJ
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-keepers
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
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
John
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I first read SOUL ON ICE over twenty five years ago. At the that point in my life, I understood very little of what Cleaver was really saying. The blistering anger came through, but, even a non-reader of SOUL ON ICE knows about that anger.

And it was Cleaver's brilliant provocations fueled by his outrage and anger that first impressed me. And as a young white dude slowly building up my tolerance for white racial stress, I was ashamed at how quickly I rose to take on the challenge of those angry
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Charles
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this book is a treasure
Ryan
Jul 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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Byron
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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loafingcactus
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015, biography
Extraordinarily well-written in terms of hanging philosophical exposition on autobiography. If you had to say everything you wanted to say about what your life means in the context of the entire universe, can you say it in a way that a person would read, and could read and could understand? This is the question that faces every memoir writer, and this book is a tippy-top example of how to respond to that question. And most particularly this book has an excellent narrative on Responsibility, in t ...more
Charles
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
Aaron
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general, life-story
I first heard about this book twenty years ago, in 1999, and in a sense it took me twenty years to read it. I knew it was about racism in America, and that Eldridge Cleaver wrote it while he was in prison. But apart from that I had only heard that it was "heavy". About a year ago I visited my sister and saw it on her bookshelf, so I asked to borrow it. It took me another year to pick it up again. This one was an especially hard read and I think it's probably best that I waited those twenty years ...more
Margaret Sanders
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
You won't find King's dream here. Eldridge presents the reality of race relations at the start of segregation and the crushing view from the end of the tunnel. Beautifully written of a very ugly truth. It will not be pleasant to read. I don't believe it's supposed to be. It will give insight and hopefully move us a bit more into the light. This was written in 1968 and unfortunately still is relevant.

One line in the book that was highlighted by a previous reader 'The price of hating others us lo
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Bonnie
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Very difficult for me to read. To be honest I was put off by the fact that this man was an admitted, convicted rapist. As I started to read about his theories on civil rights, I was struck by how much things have not really changed. But then I was put off by the very clear sexism and his homophobia.
So, I do like the book in the sense that it made me think. But I am not sure that I would call this one of my favorite reads. I believe it reflects an attitude that was prevelent in those days about
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Shanae
Apr 24, 2010 added it
I'm not going to rate this book because I did not finish it, technically. I've read all that I am willing to read. I just could not go an further with this memoir because I found it quite unsettling. The part of the memoir I read, about 60 pages worth, was very well-written. However, I've learned that I'm not the only person who has not been able to finish this book. If you can stomach it, I recommend it because it was well-written, vivid, and, seemingly, an accurate depiction of Black male thou ...more
Judi
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm done. When I initially read this book forty some years ago as a chick still in high school I was naievly dazzled. Rereading it now I hoped to gain a perspective of the time it was written. Now it reads like the diatribe of an obsessed, bitter hater. I can certainly understand the validity of many of the points made in this book, but the seething vitriolic undercurrents take the whole thing down. Of course, I now have read information regarding the balance of the Eldridge Cleaver's life and t ...more
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77 followers
Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, better known as Eldridge Cleaver, was a writer and political activist who became an early leader of the Black Panther Party.

In 1958 he was put in jail for rape. There he was given a copy of The Communist Manifesto. When he got released he joined the Black Panther Party. He then joined the Oakland-based Black Panther Party, serving as Minister of Information, or spokesperso
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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.” 33 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.” 8 likes
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