a man stands with the barrel of a gun pointed at the back of his neck and a police officer in the background wielding a billy club

Revolutionary Suicide: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

by Huey P. Newton Author

This classic book, published for the first time in 1973, represents the work of Huey P. Newton, founding member of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and an American revolutionary. It is a manifesto, a history, and a treatise on what Newton saw as the path to freedom for Black Americans. While in nearly continuous solitary confinement at the California Men's Penal Colony at San Luis Obispo (for, it bears noting, a crime he was never convicted of) Newton began to reflect on the fact that young Black men die of suicide at a rate nearly twice that of white men of the same age. These deaths of despair haunted Newton, and led him to formulate 'revolutionary suicide' as an alternative to the 'reactionary suicides' that he saw as products of external social conditions. He writes, "it is better to oppose the forces that would drive me to self-murder than to endure them. Although I risk the likelihood of death, there is at least the possibility, if not the probability, of changing intolerable conditions." This book, then, serves as an exploration of Newton's struggle against those intolerable conditions. It is a profoundly important book for anyone to read, to understand Newton not as the armed boogeyman that racist whites perceived, but in his own terms and his own words, as someone struggling to change the world, and to live with hope and dignity. A must read, especially in post-George Floyd America.