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Not Out of Africa

How "Afrocentrism" Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History


Mary Lefkowitz (View Bio)
Hardcover: Basic Books, 1996; Paperback: Basic Books, 1997.

Not Out of Africa

"You're carried along not only by the quality of her argument, but by the scholarly excitement of the hunt.... Most of it sure sounds conclusive to me." — The Village Voice

"Written in reaction to a veritable firestorm of criticism and vituperation, sometimes quite ugly." — Glenn Loury, Arion

"With great eloquence, learning and compassion, NOT OUT OF AFRICA shows how preferring myth to facts is a disaster for everyone." — The Wall Street Journal

"Wellesley classics professor Lefkowitz — whose eponymous 1992 New Republic article brought to popular attention a major battle in the Culture Wars — expands her attack on Afrocentrism in this brief volume. Chapters on myths of African origins, cultural dependency, the Egyptian mystery system, and 'the stolen legacy' trace genealogies and etymologies and examine the assertions of Greek and Roman historians and the fictions of an eighteenth-century French priest, urging that 'virtually all the claims made by Afrocentrists can be shown to be without substance.'" — Booklist

"This timely book is not only important readig for the general public but a 'must' for educators rightly concerned about the wide distribution and pernicious influence of Afrocentric inaccuracies and distortions." — Frank M. Snowden, Howard University

"The real problem with Afrocentrism...is not that its 'truths' about Greece and Egypt are false. More dangerous is the underlying attitude that all history is fiction, which can be manipulated at will for political ends." — Time

"The definitive statement." — The New York Times Book Review

"Scholarly detective work." — Washington Post

"NOT OUT OF AFRICA combines a learned demolition of various 'politically correct' historical fantasies with a thoughtful inquiry into questions of historical method and of academic freedom. Anyone perplexed by multicultural education should read it." — Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

"Ms. Lefkowitz systematically demolishes Afrocentric contentions about ancient history." — The New York Times

"Mary Lefkowitz's courageous book reminds us that history must be based on evidence, openly arrived at and openly argued, not myth, ideology, or opinion. She further reminds us that if scholars abandon the canons of scholarship, then the university itself is in peril." — Diane Ravitch

"Mary Lefkowitz will make enemies...Cassandras are, after all, inconvenient, especially when they show that a myth designed to help a particular community is in reality demeaning that community and helping to marginalize it." — Times Literary Supplement

"Lefkowitz presents the evidence and arguments underlying classical scholars' objectings to Afrocentric claims clearly and concisely." — American Historical Review

"Lefkowitz is superb at lighting the dim corridors in which falsehood is transmuted into fact." — Virtual Dashiki

"If truth mattered in this controversy, [this] book would end the debate." — George F. Will, Newsweek

"Detailed, carefully researched, and fully documented.... Appealing mythologies about the past bring satisfaction in the short run, but in the end they damage the very cause they are intended to promote. The events of this century have shown that it is dangerous to allow propaganda to usurp historical truth." — Bernard Knox, Harvard University

"Cool, rational, precise." — Nathan Glazer

"A painstaking refutation of the main Afrocentric mythologies which have come to prominence from their small beginnings in the 1950s to their high-water mark following Martin Bernal's BLACK ATHENA books in the 1980s." — The Times (London)

"A careful and methodical response to one of Afrocentrism's central tenets: that the ancient Greeks hijacked much of their philosophy, theology, and science from the ancient Egyptians and passed it off as their own invention." — Boston Globe

"A brilliant, incisive, erudite critique of the 'hustle' that is Afrocentrism." — Clarence E. Walker, University of California - Davis

"[T]his book is the best word so far in the debate about Egypt's influence on classical Greek philosophy. It is also a rattling good yarn." — K. Anthony Appiah, Harvard University

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