J.B. Lippincott Company
I borrowed this book from the Toronto Public Library. It’s author, James Haskins, wrote many books over his career (which ended with his death in 2005), many of them focusing on African American culture and achievement, and many of his books are meant to be read by adolescent readers. Revolutionaries: Agents of Change, is one of the books targeting younger readers, it is a collection of eleven chapters, each of which is a brief biography of a well known revolutionary figure. These chapters are concise and easy to read, and they stay on topic, focusing primarily upon the details of the lives of these men that pertain to their revolutionary actions.
Haskins' choice in revolutionaries runs a wide spectrum of, mostly, twentieth century men (there were no women selected for this book) from a variety of cultures and contexts. The author's revolutionaries are: Malcolm X, Ho Chi Minh, Karl Marx, Robespierre, Kemal Ataturk, Mao Tse-Tung, Patrick Henry, Fidel Castro, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Emiliano Zapata, and George Washington. Many of Haskens choices were successful in achieving their revolutionary aims, and Haskins does not shy away from discussing them as both heroic figures, and, when its relevant, as dictators. His book seems fairly brave in its inclusion of Marx and those he inspired, including enemies such as Minh and Castro, who were enemies of the United States at the time of this work’s publication - and I suspect that his desire to bring them into contact with men such as the American revolutionary heroes Patrick Henry and George Washington, was to demonstrate the transcendant power of the revolutionary spirit.
There is a sense that the book was thriving on the radical spirit of its time. The book was published in 1971 when violent struggle had achieved a kind of dominance within American activism. Perhaps Haskins intention for his book was to retrieve a selection of men from the images they had become and return the charge they once carried back to them. Haskins revolutionaries were, for the most part, advocates for violent struggle if they not directly engaged in it. The tradition of non-violent resistance is absent from Haskins book, which I suspect is a deliberate choice although I have no insight into possible motivations for such a decision. Mahatma Ghandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the two figures who represent non-violent struggle to the world, are missing from the text.