Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2009
Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth is a seminal work. What this book adds to the human and historical perspective of colonialism is invaluable. There is no other work that enumerates quite so well what colonialism does to the human being suffering under its yoke like this book, and it is this point which makes this work so very powerful.

What strikes the reader very early on in this reading is the raw emotion. Each page is dripping with rage and anger of the dispossessed, but while this anger is palpable and real the book does not suffer from that emotion. In fact it is enhanced by it. The writing is very matter of fact which gives the emotion this eerie feeling of naturalness as if this anger and hatred for the colonial system is nothing but the logical outgrowth and conclusion to that very system. This is the human perspective at its most elementary. While this work is very lucid and intelligent, the author does not hide the ugly realities behind any veneer of scholarly wordplay. There is a quote from Aime Cesaire's Les Armes Miraculeuses that is brutal and haunting that expresses the violent impulse to cast off oppression when the chance arises no matter what form that oppression takes. It is this brutal honesty and the matter-of-factness with the violence that does so much to expose what the colonial system does to human beings.

The historical perspective is equally important because it gives readers a chance to see the evolution of resistance. Fanon allows readers into the very mind of the resistance, and let's us see the dehumanizing affect of this horrible system and its inevitable end point. His discussion of revolutionary movements and the impulses behind them is invaluable for the historian. He offers a psychological analysis as well as an historical analysis. That's why this book is so vital to understanding the whole of colonialism, or at least as close to the whole as anyone can come.

I do have some criticisms as well. I found the book to be an extremely difficult read. The reason for the difficulty is the narrative style. The book is written almost as a stream of consciousness. The book feels as if the author just sat down and started writing his thoughts down and that became this book. The work cries out for some sort of organization or structure; something to delineate Fanon's thoughts and to map out for the reader just what they are reading at a given time. The style of the writing is excellent. It is only the narrative that I found so difficult.

Even with my criticism this book is still an important read. The perspective it offers is like no other, and it is this that makes the book so valuable. If you really want to know what colonialism is and what it does then this book has to be read. I highly recommend this bok.
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