A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story
"Profound, funny ... wild and moving ... heartbreaking accounts of a lonely black childhood.... Brown sees racial oppression in national and global context; every political word she writes pounds home a lesson about commerce, money, racism, communism, you name it ... A glowing achievement.” —Los Angeles Times
Elaine Brown assumed her role as the first and only female leader of the Black Panther Party with these words: “I have all the guns and all the money. I can withstand challenge from without and from within. Am I right, Comrade?” It was August 1974. From a small Oakland-based cell, the Panthers had grown to become a revolutionary national organization, mobilizing black communities and white supporters across the country—but relentlessly targeted by the police and the FBI, and increasingly riven by violence and strife within. How Brown came to a position of power over this paramilitary, male-dominated organization, and what she did with that power, is a riveting, unsparing account of self-discovery.
Brown’s story begins with growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia and attending a predominantly white school, where she first sensed what it meant to be black, female, and poor in America. She describes her political awakening during the bohemian years of her adolescence, and her time as a foot soldier for the Panthers, who seemed to hold the promise of redemption. And she tells of her ascent into the upper echelons of Panther leadership: her tumultuous relationship with the charismatic Huey Newton, who would become her lover and her nemesis; her experience with the male power rituals that would sow the seeds of the party's demise; and the scars that she both suffered and inflicted in that era’s paradigm-shifting clashes of sex and power. Stunning, lyrical, and acute, this is the indelible testimony of a black woman’s battle to define herself.
Praise for A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story
“Profound, funny. . . . Movie makers, where are you? This narration is as wild and moving as Bonnie and Clyde. It’s as adventurous as Lawrence of Arabia. It has more gore than 14 Terminators. And it also has beautiful, touching, heartbreaking accounts of a lonely black childhood. . . . Brown sees racial oppression in national and global context; every political word she writes pounds home a lesson about commerce, money, racism, communism, you name it. . . . A glowing achievement.” —Los Angeles Times
“A Taste of Power is chilling, well-written, and profoundly entertaining.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Honest, funny, subjective, unsparing, and passionate. . . A Taste of Power weaves autobiography and political history into a story that fascinates and illuminates.” —Washington Post
“A stunning picture of a black woman’s coming of age in America. Put it on the shelf beside The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A superb achievement. Finally I understood what the Black Panthers were all about. They were bold, daring, and beautiful, and so is A Taste of Power.” —Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land
“What Elaine Brown writes is so astonishing, at times it is even difficult to believe she survived it. And yet she did, bringing us that amazing light of the black woman’s magical resilience, in the gloominess of our bitter despair.” —Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple
“This is the kind of book you develop a relationship with—one of those tumultuous, passionate relationships commonly reserved for lovers. I drank my morning coffee with it, and arrived at work in anticipation of returning to it in the evening. . . . Fascinating. . . . Remarkable.” —Farah Jasmine Griffin, Boston Review
“The writing is lyrical, poetic, searing, and staunchly intelligent, much I suspect like the author herself.” —Marita Golden, author of Long Distance Life
“With this book, Elaine Brown makes a crucial contribution to American history, African-American history, women’s history.” —Hattie Gossett, author of presenting sister noblues
“This is a powerful book on a personal level that tells Brown’s own story without sentimentality but with insight and candor. . . A must for anyone interested in any insight into the organization.” —New York Amsterdam News