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A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  3,486 ratings  ·  137 reviews
Brown's account of her life at the highest levels of the Black Panther party's hierarchy. More than a journey through a turbulent time in American history, this is the story of a black woman's battle to define herself.
Paperback, 452 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Anchor (first published December 1st 1992)
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 ·  3,486 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Nov 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: black panther party historians, radical ladies scholars, people who can stomach girl jealousy
elaine brown was appointed charperson of the black panther party in the 70s, after huey p. newton was sent packing off to jail again. she headed up the party during a fractious period in its history. she was responsible for dismantling national offices & bringing the focus of the party back to oakland, culminating in bobby seale & herself running for elected office. they cut off the panther 21 awaiting trial on the east coast, eldridge cleaver chillaxin' in algiers after escaping prison, ...more
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Taste Of Power

This book is a more than a memoir, it is a classic tragedy. In A Taste Of Power, Elaine Brown recounts her life and exeperiences in the Black Panther Party. From the very first chapter in which she is announcing her leadership status to the general assembly, I was intrigued. However, the first chip in the romantic picture of the Panthers also, occurs here. The next third of the book is spent discussing Elaine’s childhood. Raised in a poor neighborhoods in Philadelphia
Jun 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in the Black Panther Party
Shelves: life-stories
Wow! This book is important!

Elaine Brown, once leader of the Black Panther Party, tells the story of her life, both before and during her days with the party. She tells of the misogyny of the male Panthers and how the women Panthers just wanted to be treated as equals.

This book taught me a lot of things I didn't know about the Black Panther Party and answered a lot of questions that I had. In addition, the book is written in a way that draws the reader in and makes him/he
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I can't say enough about how great this book is. On the surface level, it's well-written, well-organized, and very clear. There are some things I wish she had included more details about, but there is a substantial amount about the Panther years.

Probably the only thing I would have liked additionally is more context or perspective, though I'm not sure there would have been room for that. Elaine Brown played such a big role in the Party for so many years, but in some sections she
ryo narasaki
Jun 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommended to ryo by: giselle
I learned about one version of the Panthers' many histories, unfiltered by the pinball machine that was my capitalist american-dream education in this nation's history. A Taste of Power was organized instead by Elaine Brown's incredible life-experience and perspective. I finally got a concentrated break-down of the Panther analysis of class conflict, Huey Newton's theory of intercommunalism, and the process by which the Party entered city and national politics. I finally have a better understand ...more
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
As revealing in what she can see as what she can't see, this was an incredibly illuminating account of the black panthers. Both the fierceness of their ideals and the fierceness of their flaws. And a continuous reminder of just how far women have come since those days...though lord knows we haven't come far enough. I know those rumors are out there that she was involved with the FBI. I find it doubtful for all of her flaws, they shine from the book as much as what she believed to be true, and I ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't think I can recommend this book enough. Elaine Brown's autobiography is moving, captivating, and unexpected. Although I knew when all the assassinations of Panthers like John Huggins and Bunchy Carter and Fred Hampton were coming, I still found myself choking back tears when she described their deaths. This book was an illuminating portrayal of the life of one (incredibly smart, daring) woman and of the Party to which she gave so many years of her life.
Maya B
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I was not really sure how to rate this book. Its a book of her life as well as an account of what life was like as a light skin black female and to also be the first female leader in the black panther party. I must admit she did seem bitter at times about her life. This book is her point of view and as we all know there is more than one side to every story. 2.5 stars at best. To all the people she mentions in this book, it would have been nice to read their viewpoints on elaine brown.
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-read-in-2015
Update: Rating changed to 5 stars because of my love for this book. Despite my rating change, my original opinions still stand.
Brown grows up like many black leaders I’ve read about, trying to do well, be respectable and respected despite her the obstacles her race presents to her. She has an absentee father and an emotionally demanding mother. Throughout her childhood and well into adulthood, she tries to fulfill herself through appealing to people’s physical and emotional demands: her mo
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Elaine Brown: From a poverty laden childhood in Philadelphia, where her mother demanded she HAVE the best, resulting in days in school surrounded by the children of rich Jewish and Black bourgousie business owners and professionals, and nights at home filled with roaches, ghetto girls and gang a job in a strip club in Los Angeles which leads to romantic liasions with powerful celebrity connections, where the last thing on her mind was "Power to the People" ...more
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is pretty good. Its got me on a whole new Black Panther Party focus. After Assata, elaine gives a good account of what was going on in southern california and the who Karenga/COINTELPRO situation.

lots of interesting stories about tons of people. the stories about huey and bunchy are crazy. definitely check it out.

what did i learn from it so far?
in 1970, blacks were 50% of the prison population and we still are!

the FBI had a plan to get rid of "black
Apr 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
My husband gave me this book for my birthday and it took me a while to get into the book but once I did I fell in love with Elaine Brown her story her struggles and he drive. So much so that I was tempted to go to a book signing she was having in Oakland Calif for a different author. This was such a great book and I wanted it to never end when I got to the last page I was a little sad
Alanna Why
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Taste Of Power is a fascinating account of Elaine Brown's life, from her introduction to the Black Panther Party to her eventual escape from it. I knew very little about the Panthers going into this book and learned so much about them from Brown's experience, including the rampant misogyny that eventually caused her to leave. It is a shame that Huey Newton's legacy seems to have overshadowed hers in popular culture, as she contributed fundamentally to the Panther's Survival Programs, from free ...more
To be in love with your freer and your abuser at the same time, that is the story of Elaine Brown and most black women in Black Panthers and Civil rights movements in general

I read this book moons ago, like probably at least 20 years ago.
I know I need to read again, but this review is of my initial reaction .
Pardon my french but during 90% of the book , my thoughts were
"this bitch is crazy" , literally that's my whole take on her story.
Not just because of her willingness to p
Mallah-Divine Mallah
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
After meeting her in person I had to read her book. It is an interesting story.
Wow. This huge book knocked me over. Remember how I said Black Pather women are mispresented? This is a blow by blow account of Elaine Brown when she was the head of the Black Panthers when Huey P. Newton left the country. Besides trying to raise a kid, live through police attacks, and dealing with sexiest fucks, let alone racism, I found that I deeply identify with some accounts of self-denial and deep-seated self fears. When she describes the painful process of reclaiming herself as being blac ...more
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Elaine was the President of BPP for a time, Huey's lover and partner for a time; an honestly neurotic woman, simpatico in almost every way. Perhaps a person of more, ahem, prudish virtues would find offense in her recollections. Many have diminished her allegiance to her fallen comrades, holding her responsible for some deaths. *shrug* Maybe so, but one is compelled to trust her as she is forthright about her failures.
A definite must read for womanists, black nationalists, those interested in B
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very interesting perspective of the black panther party. I learned a lot more about the gender dynamics in the movement than from other tellings of this history. It gave me a lot to think about- about her role in the panthers and her politics, and about the panthers in general. It gets a little slow when she is talking about the party getting involved in mainstream politics (womp).
Rianna Jade
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-finest
I can't recommend this more highly. SO important. If you ever had any questions or even an inkling of interest into the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, please start here. I agree that this should be on bookshelves everywhere next to the autobiography of Malcolm X.

I was so moved by Elaine Brown that I dedicated an International Women's Week blog post to her on Black Feminists dot. Org.
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
An essential read.

A Taste Of Power provides a brilliant example of just how crippling and destructive patriarchy can be to societal progression. By the end of that book I was angry, disappointed and ultimately, exhausted.

The key word I attribute to this book is survival.
Melanie Smith
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a good read, but emotionally draining. Half way through I wanted to throw in the towel, but knew I had to finish. I was happy, sad, angry and everything in between while reading. Glad that Elaine made the decision that she did at the book's end.
Feb 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elaine Brown led the Black Panther Party when Huey Newton was exhiled to Cuba in the 1970s. This autobiography details her experience as a woman, leading the somwhat chauvinist Black Panther Party.
Regina D
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was such an interesting look into the life of an intelligent and gifted woman both extremely strong and habitually weak at the same time. Definitely worth discussing.
I learned SO MUCH from this. SO MUCH. I'd heard names like Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton, but I didn't know much about them; now I feel like I understand them, and their role in history, much more. I also gained a much deeper understanding of the Black Panthers, and all the things the Panthers were and tried to be and could have been. What I took away is that there is no short and simple description of the Black Panther Party, and that the contradictory descriptions you hear from critics and ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: liberation
Elaine Brown, I love you.

I just finished reading her autobiography, and I am absolutely astounded by the brilliance, strength, and determination of this woman. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone that's even vaguely interested in the Black Panther Party or #BlackLiberation in general.

Elaine Brown was a member of the Black Panther Party, eventually serving as the Party Chairman and leading the party during Huey Newton's 3 year exile in Cuba.

She w
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I maintain that it was probably 150 pages too long, it's still a deeply affecting excavation about how this woman ended up leading this organization, even if it was for a short period of time. Because nothing is ever new under the sun, there were some great parallels here to some of the challenges of the Black Lives Matter movement after the heady days of confrontation. Where do you take programming that seeks to end systemic oppression. The caregiving ethos of the Survival Programs wer ...more
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: america, racism
This is Elaine Brown's story of classism, racism, and sexism in America, told from her upbringing in North Philly to her fresh start in Los Angeles where she encounters the radical Black Panther Party. She demonstrates her ideological development with remarkable honesty, showing us every person (comrade, lover, abuser, enemy) and circumstance that allowed her to become the first Chairwoman of the BPP. After reading several other accounts of the Panther movement, I think this is the most importan ...more
Cordel Finton
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this partial autobiography in college and really enjoyed the experience. Brown recounts her rise from a poor black girl to leading the Black Panthers for a time. One of my favorite aspects of the story is the behind-the-scenes look at Huey Newton and the issues that lead to the dismantling of the party; some of the issues were within, but Brown's account of federal intervention is also enlightening. The account of the murder of Fred Hampton is particularly enlightening. Overall, reading h ...more
Michael Boyte
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Of the three memoirs I've read from west coast Panthers, this is is the longest, most detailed, and most fucking depressing. Brown was deep in BPP leadership in the decent into reformism and petty gangsterism, and seems to celebrate it all. While there are valuable insights and reflections here, about the life of women in the party, there's a remarkable lack of reflection or self-criticism, she doesn't even note the difference, the transformation from vanguard to penthouse. Worthwhile for a look ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was trying to pace this book out for book club, but I also found it pretty difficult to get through. The writing is choppy and it’s over long. Interesting things about the panthers, but I personally felt too much about her formative years with little tie in to the rest of the book. I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would because of how it was written and I think with a stronger editor or a ghost writer that would’ve been fixed. I enjoyed quite a bit of the content despite the other ...more
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Elaine Brown (born March 2, 1943) is an American prison activist, writer, singer, and former Black Panther Party chairman who is based in Oakland, California. Brown briefly ran for the Green Party presidential nomination in 2008. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is a founder of Mothers Advocating Juvenile Justice.

When Newton fled to Cuba in 1974 in the face of murder charge
“Oddly, I had never thought of myself as a feminist. I had been denounced by certain radical feminist collectives as a ‘lackey’ for men. That charge was based on my having written and sung two albums of songs that my female accusers claimed elevated and praised men. Resenting that label, I had joined the majority of black women in America in denouncing feminism… . The feminists were right. The value of my life had been obliterated as much by being female as by being black and poor. Racism and sexism in America were equal partners in my oppression.” 12 likes
“I have all the guns and all the money. I can withstand challenge from without and from within. Am I right, comrade?” 6 likes
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