Soledad Brother Critical Context - Essay

George Jackson

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Jackson’s book was a best seller and won the nonfiction book award from the Black Academy of Arts and Sciences for 1971. It attracted both critical praise and condemnation, depending largely on the political sympathies of the critic. Julius Lester, writing for The New York Times Book Review, called it the most important single volume from a black writer since The Autobiography of Malcolm X and added that Jackson made the volatile Eldridge Cleaver “look like a song-and-dance man on the Ed Sullivan show.”

Many commentators, including Angela Davis, Eric Mann, and Bobby Seale, have openly charged that Jackson was murdered in a conspiracy because he was too dangerous to be released from prison and too dangerous to be kept inside. Jackson’s book appeared during a turbulent period in American history, when the war in Vietnam was raging. Soledad Brother was regarded as a book of antiwar protest because of its contention that domestic racial oppression and involvement in wars against former European colonies were both motivated by the same fascist principles being displayed by Americans in Vietnam. Jackson’s book has been credited with helping to force the United States to terminate hostilities against the North Vietnamese because Jackson specifically advised African Americans not to participate in foreign wars. This was a powerful factor in motivating the government to find a way out of the unpopular and divisive conflict....

(The entire section is 456 words.)