Black Radical

The Education of an American Revolutionary

An absorbing, firsthand account of an African American’s struggle for equality in the decades after World War II, by a writer the Washington Post calls “Wolfean and Whitmanesque”

“Peery writes with intelligence, grace, and humor. His autobiography provides not only a portrait of a fascinating life but a history of twentieth-century black radicalism.” —Kirkus

Black Fire, the celebrated first volume of Nelson Peery’s riveting autobiography, told the story of his childhood and teenage years during the Depression and his subsequent political awakening as a soldier in the all-black 93rd Infantry Division in World War II.

In this electrifying sequel, Peery picks up where Black Fire ends, beginning with his integration back into civilian life following the war, and describing the development of his revolutionary consciousness as he attempts to move from first-class soldier to first-class civilian. Black Radical offers a rare perspective and a new and fascinating vantage on the crucial historical period from 1946 through 1968, including the postwar grassroots struggle for equality and democracy led by black veterans, the battles of the black left and revolutionaries during the McCarthy inquisition and their role in the freedom movement, and the 1965 Watts rebellion in Los Angeles, where Peery and his family were living at the time. Above all, Black Radical is about the education of an American revolutionary amid the continuing struggles to bring to life the ideals that Peery and so many others fought for in World War II.


“Necessary reading for any student of American history.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“A well-told, scathing story . . . it resounds with a sense of justice.”
The New Yorker
“Riveting. . . . [Peery’s] sparse, direct, sinewy prose pulses with passion and eloquence.”
Quarterly Black Review

Books by Nelson Peery

Black Fire
The Making of an American Revolutionary

Nelson Peery

Goodreads Reviews