C.L.R. James

A Political Biography

By Kent Worcester

Subjects: Third World Studies
Series: SUNY series, INTERRUPTIONS: Border Testimony(ies) and Critical Discourse/s
Paperback : 9780791427521, 311 pages, November 1995
Hardcover : 9780791427514, 311 pages, November 1995

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Table of contents



Part One

Chapter One Beyond a Boundary

Chapter Two Modern Politics

Part Two

Chapter Three Education, Propaganda, Agitation

Chapter Four Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways

Chapter Five Facing Reality

Part Three

Chapter Six Parties and Politics in the West Indies

Chapter Seven At the Rendezvous

Appendix I Abbreviations

Appendix II Glossary of Names

Appendix III Selected and Annotated Bibliography of the Secondary Literature



A fascinating, immensely readable biography of one of the most important radical intellectuals of the twentieth century.


C. L. R. James: A Political Biography offers the first sustained account of the life and work of one of the twentieth-century's most important radical intellectuals.

C. L. R. James (1901-1989) was born and raised in Trinidad and became one of the most prominent figures to emerge out of the West Indian diaspora. He authored numerous books and essays on Caribbean history, Marxist theory, literary criticism, Western civilization, African politics, Hegelian philosophy, and popular culture. His best known works, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, and Beyond a Boundary are classics of twentieth-century thought. James played an active part in democratic movements in the West Indies and Africa as well as in left-wing and Pan-African campaigns in Britain, the United States, and Trinidad.

Kent Worcester is a program director at the Social Science Research Council in New York. He has written extensively on the life and work of C. L. R. James, and is co-editor of Trade Union Politics: American Unions and Economic Change, 1960s-1990s. He serves on the editorial board of New Politics, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy.


"This biography is an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to understand the extraordinary life and work of C. L. R. James. It is thoroughly researched, based on primary sources as well as a very wide range of secondary materials, and a careful, subtle reading of James'prolific writings; yet it is always readable. It provides an accessible entry to the many worlds enriched by James: Marxist theory and practice, Caribbean and African politics, Western literature, popular culture, cricket and world revolution. Worcester has written a sensitive, multi-facted, intellectual biography of one of this century's most creative thinkers. " -- Bridget Brereton, The University of the West Indies

"C. L. R. James was one of the twentieth-century's most significant radical intellectuals. Kent Worcester's excellent biography provides an extraordinary analysis of James'screative mind and political imagination. Worcester's work is the single best study of James currently available. " -- Manning Marable, Columbia University

"Kent Worcester has managed to do something that very few people who write about political theory have done. He has provided an eminently readable biography but has also given James his full due as a political, social, and literary theorist. This is a remarkable achievement. " -- Stanley Aronowitz, City University of New York Graduate Center

"Kent Worcester's biography puts the gist of James's career before the reader in one compact yet wide-ranging volume. ...The narrative is swift, yet rich in information. An invaluable guide to the work of a thinker who posed questions about 'postcoloniality' well before his contemporaries realized that all empires must fall. " -- Scott McLemee, editor, C. L. R. James on the "Negro Question"

"This is a fine piece of work--a work which has been impatiently awaited for several years by serious 'James scholars. ' " -- Paul Le Blanc, Carlow College