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 whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in

danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother,

Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say,

Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

 

 

Sermon on the Mount

Gospel of Matthew 5, 6, and 7

 

Editor's Note: What follows a verse in bold may have had a New Testament literary influence in the writing of the "Sermon on the Mount."

 

Matthew 5


  1
         And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
  2
         And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
  3
         Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

         [Proverbs 29:23 || …he who is lowly in spirit shall obtain honor.]

  4
         Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

        [Psalms 147:3 || He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.]

   5
         Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

        [Psalms 37:11 || The meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.]

  6
         Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

         [Psalms 5:13 || You do bless the righteous, O Lord; You do encompass him with favor as with a shield.]

  7
         Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

        [Talmud, Shabbath 151b || Rabbi Gamliel said: “Whoever has mercy upon creatures will be granted mercy from heaven…”]

  8
         Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

        [Psalms 24:3--4 || Who shall ascend the mount of the Lord, and who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…

  9
         Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

        [Psalms 34:15 || …seek peace and pursue it.]
  10
         Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  11
         Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

        [Talmud, Baba Kamma 93a || Rabbi Abbahu said: “A man should always try to be among the persecuted rather than the persecutors…”]

  12
         Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
  13
         Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
  14
         Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
  15
         Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
  16
         Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
  17
         Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
  18
         For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
  19
         Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and         teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
  20
         For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  21
         Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
  22
         But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

 23
         Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24
         Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

         [Talmud, Aboth 5:14 || …hard to anger and easily reconciled is a kindly man.]

  25
         Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
  26
         Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

  27
         Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
  28
         But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

       [Talmud, Kallah, Chapter 1 || He who regards a woman with an impure intention is as if he had already had relations with her.]

  29
         And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

  30
         And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
  31
         It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
32
         But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

       [Talmud, Gittin 90a || The school of Shammai said: “A man should not divorce his wife unless he finds her guilty of an unseemly thing.”]


  33
         Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
  34
         But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
  35
         Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
  36
         Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
  37
         But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

        [Talmud, Baba Mezia 49 || Rabbi Judah said: “…your ‘yes’ shall be true, and your ‘no’ shall be true.”]

  38
         Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
  39
         But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

         [Lamentations 3:30 || Let him offer his cheek to him who smites him….]

  40
         And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
  41
         And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
  42
         Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

         [Psalms 37:21 || …the righteous deals graciously and gives.]

         [Psalms 37:26 || All day he deals graciously and lends…]

  43
         Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
  44
         But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

        [Proverbs 25:21 || If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink…]

  45
         That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

         [Ecclesiastes 9:2 || All things come alike to all; there is one event for the righteous and for the wicked…]

  46
         For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
  47
         And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
  48
         Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

        [Talmud, Shabbath 133b || Abba Saul said: “Be like Him…just as He is gracious and compassionate, so you be gracious and compassionate.”]

*   *  *   *   *


Matthew 6

  1
         Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
  2
         Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  3
         But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
  4
         That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

         [Talmud, Baba Bathra 9b || Rabbi Eleazar said: “A man who gives charity in secret is greater…”]

  5
         And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  6
         But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

  7
         But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

        [Talmud, Berakoth 61a || Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Meir: “A man’s words should always be few in addressing God…”]

  8
         Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
  9
         After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
  10
         Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
  11
         Give us this day our daily bread.
  12
         And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
  13
         And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
  14
         For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
  15
         But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

        [Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 17a || Whose sin does He forgive? Him who forgives transgression…]

  16
         Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  17
         But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
  18
         That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

  19
         Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
  20
         But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

       [Talmud, Baba Bathra 11a || After King Monbas’ family rebuked him for giving away all the family’s treasures, he answered: “My ancestors stored treasures here below, and I store treasures in heaven. . . . My ancestors stored treasures in a place that could be reached by human hands, but I have stored [them] in a place that can be reached by no human hand...”

  21
         For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
  22
         The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
  23
         But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

  24
         No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

       [Proverbs 30:8--9 || ...give me neither poverty nor riches....Lest I become full and deny You, and say: “Who is the Lord?”...]

  25
         Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

  26
         Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

        [Psalms 147:9 || He gives to the beast his food, and to the young ravens that cry.]

  27
         Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
  28
         And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
  29
         And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
  30
         Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
  31
         Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
  32
         (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
  33
         But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

         [Psalms 37:4 || Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.]


  34
         Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

        [Talmud, Sotah 48b || Rabbi Eliezer said: “He who has only a morsel of bread in his basket, and asks: ‘What shall I eat tomorrow?’ is a man of little faith.”]

        [Talmud, Berakoth 9b || Moses said to God: “Lord of the universe, sufficient is the evil in its time!”]

*   *   *   *   *



Matthew 7

  1
         Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  2
         For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

         [Talmud, Shabbath 127b || Our Rabbis taught: “He who judges his neighbor favorably is himself judged favorably.”]

         [Talmud, Sotah 8b || Rabbi Meir said: “The way one measures others will be meted out for him.”]

  3
         And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  4
         Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
  5
         Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

        [Talmud, Arakin 16b || Rabbi Tarfon said: “...for if one says to him: ‘Remove the speck from between your eyes,’ he would answer: ‘Remove the beam from between your eyes!’ ”]

  6
         Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

         [Proverbs 23:9 || Do not speak in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.]

  7
         Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

        [Jeremiah 29:13 || You shall seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.]

  8
         For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
  9
         Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
  10
         Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
  11
         If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

  12
         Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

        [Talmud, Shabbath 31a || Rabbi Hillel said: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Law; the rest is its commentary. Go and learn it!”]


  13
         Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
  14
         Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
  15
         Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
  16
         Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
  17
         Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
  18
         A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
  19
         Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
  20
         Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
  21

         Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
  22
         Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

  23
         And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

        [Psalms 6:9 || Depart from me, all you workers of evil...]

  24
         Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
  25
         And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
  26
         And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
  27
         And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
  28
         And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
  29
         For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

*   *   *   *   *

The Sermon on the Mount (anglicized from the Matthean Vulgate Latin section title: Sermo in monte) is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5, 6 and 7). It is the first of the Five Discourses of Matthew and takes place relatively early in the Ministry of Jesus after he has been baptized by John the Baptist and preached in Galilee.

The Sermon is the longest piece of teaching from Jesus in the New Testament, and has been one of the most widely quoted elements of the Canonical Gospels. It includes some of the best known teachings of Jesus such as the Beatitudes, and the widely recited Lord's Prayer. To most believers in Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount contains the central tenets of Christian discipleship.

The last verse of chapter 5 is a focal point that summarizes the teaching of the sermon: "be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect", advising the disciples or students to seek the path towards perfection and the Kingdom of God.wikipedia

The Talmud (Hebrew: תַּלְמוּד talmūd "instruction, learning", from a root lmd "teach, study") is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history.

The Talmud has two components: the Mishnah (Hebrew: משנה)(c. 200 CE), the first written compendium of Judaism's Oral Law; and the Gemara (c. 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Bible.

The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. The Gemara is the basis for all codes of rabbinic law and is much quoted in other rabbinic literature. The whole Talmud is also traditionally referred to as Shas (ש״ס), a Hebrew abbreviation of shisha sedarim, the "six orders" of the Mishnah.—wikipedia

posted 22 June 2008

*   *   *   *   *

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It's The Middle Class Stupid!

By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! confirms what we have all suspected: Washington and Wall Street have really screwed things up for the average American. Work has been devalued. Education costs are out of sight. Effort and ambition have never been so scantily rewarded. Political guru James Carville and pollster extraordinaire Stan Greenberg argue that our political parties must admit their failures and the electorate must reclaim its voice, because taking on the wealthy and the privileged is not class warfare—it is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our government—including the White House—has gone wrong, and what voters can do about it. 

Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! is destined to make waves during the 2012 presidential campaign, and will set the agenda for legislative battles and political dust-ups during the next administration.

*   *   *   *   *

 

Absalom, Absalom! 

By William Faulker

Absalom, Absalom!  is Faulkner's great novel of the rise and fall of the Sutpen dynasty and a great allegory of the rise and fall of the Old South. The book told through three interconnected narratives tells the life story of Thomas Sutpen. The narratives are not straight forward and present a constant challenge to the reader. But if the reader does not close the book in despair the rewards are great indeed.  The mood of the storytelling alone is worth the price of admission here. The long flowing sentences are marvels and testaments to Faulkner's skill as a writer. The narrative drive makes reading the book almost like reading Greek tragedy. We gets views of Sutpens life from several townspeople and also across generations. This is the first book that I've read in a long time that made me feel like I had accomplished something when I finished it. You don't so much read this novel as you become lost in it. Jump in get your feet wet and prepare for some of the most intense Southern gothic that you are ever likely to read. Amazon Reader / nytimes

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

*   *   *   *   *

 

Becoming American Under Fire

Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship

During the Civil War Era

By Christian G. Samito

In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. . . . For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race.   For Love of Liberty

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Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid

By  Frank B. Wilderson III

Wilderson, a professor, writer and filmmaker from the Midwest, presents a gripping account of his role in the downfall of South African apartheid as one of only two black Americans in the African National Congress (ANC). After marrying a South African law student, Wilderson reluctantly returns with her to South Africa in the early 1990s, where he teaches Johannesburg and Soweto students, and soon joins the military wing of the ANC. Wilderson's stinging portrait of Nelson Mandela as a petulant elder eager to accommodate his white countrymen will jolt readers who've accepted the reverential treatment usually accorded him. After the assassination of Mandela's rival, South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani, Mandela's regime deems Wilderson's public questions a threat to national security; soon, having lost his stomach for the cause, he returns to America. WPublishers Weekly

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Hands on the Freedom Plow

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By Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan

Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, et al.

The book opens a window onto the organizing tradition of the Southern civil rights movement. That tradition, rooted in the courage and persistence of ordinary people, has been obscured by the characterization of the civil rights struggle as consisting primarily of protest marches. In rural Dawson, Ga., Carolyn Daniels housed SNCC workers organizing for voter registration, and whites retaliated by bombing her home. But at the end of a vivid depiction of this and other anti-black terrorist acts, she writes, in an apt summary of the grass-roots organizing that is the real explanation for civil rights victories, "We just kept going and going."

Organizing involved the kind of commitment and willingness to face risk that Penny Patch conveys in only a few short sentences describing covert nighttime meetings in plantation sharecropper shacks. Patch is white. But that did not lessen the fear or reduce the danger of remaining seated while poll watching in a country store as whites came in and out, giving her and her black co-worker menacing stares.

Full journalistic disclosure requires me to say that many of these women are friends and former comrades. But knowing the movement that we were all a part of also demands that I share my observation: While these pages look back, looking forward from them reveals that there are many useful lessons for today in the strength of these women.Charles E. Cobb Jr.

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Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls

By Dorothy Sterling

Dorothy Sterling’s biography of Robert Smalls is Captain of the Planter: The Story of Robert Smalls (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1958). In most history books, the contributions of Negroes during the Civil War and Reconstructions are ignored. Robert Smalls was one of the heroes who is rarely mentioned. He was a Negro slave who stole a ship from the Confederates, served on it with the Union Army with distinction, and finally served several terms in Congress.

All this was accomplished against the handicaps first of slavery, then of the prejudice of the Union Army, and finally of the Jim Crow laws, which eventually conquered him. Besides its value in contradicting the history book insinuation that the Negro was incapable of political enterprise and that the South was right in imposing Jim Crow laws, Captain of the Planter is an exciting adventure story. Captain Smalls’ escape from slavery and his battle exploits make interesting reading, and the style is fast moving.—Barbara Dodds

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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