Close Notification

Your cart does not contain any items

The Sword and the Shield

The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Peniel Joseph



In stock
Ready to ship


Little Brown
09 June 2020
Biography; Biography: historical, political & military; History of the Americas; Civil rights & citizenship
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are the two most iconic figures of the Civil Rights movement. To most Americans, Malcolm and Martin represent contrasting political ideals -- self-defense vs. non-violence, anger vs. pacifism, separatism vs. integration, the sword vs. the shield. The Civil Rights movement itself has suffered the same fate: while non-violent direct action is remembered today as an unalloyed good and an unassailable part of our democracy, the movement's combative militancy has been either vilified or erased outright. In THE SWORD AND THE SHIELD, acclaimed historian Peniel Joseph offers a dual biography of Malcolm and Martin and a more nuanced narrative that pushes us to completely reconsider these two leaders as well as the era they came to define. THE SWORD AND THE SHIELD reimagines Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. not as antagonists, but as two political revolutionaries who confronted the same problem from different perspectives. Examining their political lives next to one another provides a more complicated, but ultimately more satisfying, understanding of these men and the times they shaped. Despite markedly different family histories, religious affiliations, and class backgrounds, Malcolm and Martin found common ground on a wide range of issues. Each inspired the other to engage political views that he had rejected in the past. Malcolm's push to connect pan-Africanism to an international human rights agenda mirrored the multiculturalism that Martin eloquently articulated at the March on Washington. Similarly, the anti-war activism and anti-poverty campaigns of Martin's final years unleashed a stinging critique of racism, militarism, and materialism that echoed Malcolm's impassioned anti-colonialism. In short, King was more revolutionary, and Malcolm more pragmatic, than we've been told. This will stand as the definitive dual history of these two lives for years to come.
By:   Peniel Joseph
Imprint:   Little Brown
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 236mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   580g
ISBN:   9781541617865
ISBN 10:   154161786X
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   09 June 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  General/trade ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Peniel E. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan professor of political values and ethics at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written several previous books on African American history, including Stokely: A Life. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Reviews for The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Arguing against facile juxtapositions of the political philosophies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Peniel Joseph has written a powerful and persuasive re-examination of these iconic figures, tracing the evolution of both men's activism. The Sword and the Shield provides a nuanced analysis of these figures' political positions in addition to unfolding the narratives of their personal lives. Well-written and compelling, this important new book brilliantly explores the commonalities between the political goals of Malcolm and Martin. -- Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University Peniel Joseph has written the civil rights history for our time. He explains how partisanship has distorted the legacy of a movement that promoted the citizenship and dignity of all Americans. Joseph recounts how the iconic civil rights leaders worked in tandem to unleash the common potential of American democracy, and how we must all do the same today. This is a deep book that will move readers to action. --Jeremi Suri, author of The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America's Highest Office In this brilliant, timely, and eloquently written dual biography, Peniel E. Joseph, a leading scholar of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power era, not only demonstrates his command over Malcolm X's and Martin Luther King Jr.'s activism and thought, but also his penetrating understanding of the black freedom struggle and the times and events that inevitably shaped his subjects. A profound and important book, The Sword and the Shield will shape how future generations interpret Malcolm's and King's monumental contributions to American culture, politics, and democracy. --Pero G. Dagbovie, author of Reclaiming the Black Past: The Use and Misuse of African American History in the Twenty-First Century Peniel Joseph is an omnivore historian with a gift for synthesizing fact and ideas into a vivid, accessible package. In The Sword and the Shield, he has reconciled two dissonant icons in a satisfying, intimate blend of narrative and insight. --Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution The Sword and the Shield is a landmark. It is what happens when one America's greatest historians of African America shines the same light on two of African America's greatest historical figures. Peniel Joseph deploys his supreme talents as a biographer and movement historian to interweave the world-shattering lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. --Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist

See Also