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Huey P. NewtonHuey P. Newton

The Radical Theorist

Judson L. Jeffries

Narrated by Robert J. Eckrich

Available from Audible

Book published by University Press of Mississippi

New insight into the Black Panther's leadership and thought.

Huey P. Newton's powerful legacy to the Black Panther movement and the civil rights struggle has long been obscured. Conservatives harp on Newton's drug use and on the circumstances of his death in a crack-related shooting. Liberals romanticize his black revolutionary rhetoric and idealize his message.

In Huey P. Newton: The Radical Theorist, Judson L. Jeffries considers the entire arc of Newton's political role and influence on civil rights history and African American thought. Jeffries argues that, contrary to popular belief, Newton was one of the most important political thinkers in the struggle for civil rights.

Huey P. Newton's political career spanned two decades. Like many freedom fighters, he was a complex figure. His international reputation was forged as much from his passionate defense of black liberation as from his highly publicized confrontations with police.

His courage to address police brutality won him admirers in ghettos, on college campuses, and in select Hollywood circles. Newton gave Black Power a compelling urgency and played a pivotal role in the politics of black America during the 1960s and 1970s.

Few would deny that Newton's life (1942-1989) was strewn with incidences of violence and that his police record was long. But Newton's struggles with police took place in a rich and troubled context that included urban unrest, police brutality, government repression, and an intense debate over civil rights tactics.

Stripped of history and interpretation, the violence of Newton's life brought emphatic indictments of him. Newton's death attracted widespread media attention. However, pundits offered little on Newton as freedom fighter or as theoretician and activist.

Huey P. Newton: The Radical Theorist dispels myths about Newton's life, but the book is primarily an in-depth examination of Newton's ideas. By exploring this charismatic leader, Jeffries's book makes a valuable contribution to the scant literature on Newton, while also exposing the core tenets and evolving philosophies of the Black Panther Party.

Judson L. Jeffries is an assistant professor of political science at Purdue University. He is the author of Virginia's Native Son: The Election and Administration of Governor L. Douglas Wilder (2000), and his work has been published in such periodicals as Western Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Political Science, and Ethnic and Racial Studies.


“A writer of unusual economy and clarity, Judson L. Jeffries avoids the pitfalls of sensationalism and spiteful score-setting to present a level-headed, even-handed analysis of Huey P. Newton’s evolving political thought... This landmark work sets a high standard for future studies of the Black Power era leadership cadre.”

—William L. Van Deburg, author of Black Camelot: African-American Culture Heroes in Their Times, 1960-1980

“In a boldly wirtten and balanced study, Jeffries documents and analyzes the development and transformation of Newton’s ideas and political commitments as he and the Panthers confronted changing social and political conditions. Huey P. Newton is indispensable for any serious study of Huey P. Newton’s political thought.”

—Floyd W. Hayes III, author of A Turbulent Voyage

“Jeffries provides an illuminating portait of Newotn’s political ideology... The book represents the most detailed study of the political ideology of Newton and the Black Panther Party to date and as such should be required reading for all serious students of twentieth-century American and African American history, Black politics, and comparative political ideologies.”

—Yohuru R. Williams, author of Black Politics/White Power

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University Press Audiobooks