The Last of the Black Emperors is wonderful…fascinating, colorful, exciting, honest, and stylishly written…An eye-opener for America that everybody will be talking about this summer…
–RALPH COLLIER, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, “I Hear America Talking”
A deeply rewarding book. Ms. Barras is lucid both in her writing and her reportage. She deftly places Mayor Barry as the last beneficiary of a bygone era in black politics. All said and done, Marion Barry has been read his political obituary.
–MAX RODRIGUEZ, publisher, The Quarterly Review of Books
This honest and in-depth look at the life and times of our national capital’s most tenacious mayor not only helps us to better understand Marion Barry the man, but it also vividly expresses the unique political and social character of one of the last surviving city-states. Jonetta Rose Barras brings us an insightful and provocative perspective to the successes, tribulations, and resurrection of this “Old Guard” political activist-turned “Mayor for Life.” Her book will forever stand as a historical analysis of the politics of the post-civil rights era and a prophecy for the future of American blacks in our nation’s political framework.
–ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, nationally syndicated columnist, author of Beyond Blame
An eloquent and disturbing book. Barras relocates the transfixing story of Mayor Marion Barry’s rise and fall and rise and fall from the arena of electoral politics to the realm of cultural myth and religious belief. In a political sense, Barras’s book tells us that we will have to leave behind the baggage of racial superstition if we are to confront the real problems of the nation’s capital and our other cities in pain. Barras’ book leaves you with more questions than answers, but they are questions that we dare not avoid as we move into the next century.
–JAMIN B. RASKIN, Professor, Washington College of Law, American University
Marion Barry has done his stubborn best to clothe himself in a hopefully impenetrable cloak of insufferable hubris and racial pride. With clarity, passion, and often outright dismay, Jonetta Rose Barras unravels Barry’s cloak – and shows that this particular emperor is about as naked as naked gets.
–ARTHUR J. MAGIDA,
author of Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation
The story of Marion Barry is the story of a life and rare opportunity recklessly misspent, and Jonetta Rose Barras, who knows Washington much better than most, captures this story with sympathy and sensitivity. In an unflinching dissection of man and opportunity, she shows us why and how Marion Barry cheated himself, his city, and all the rest of us.
–WESLEY PRUDEN, Editor-in-chief, Washington Times
The most comprehensive and descriptive study to date of the elusive Marion Barry. Because of her thorough background and research, Barras has managed not only to capture the essence of one of America’s most complex political personalities, but also to help us understand the sinister dynamics fueling Barry’s political juggernaut.
Associate Professor of Public Administration, George Washington University
The Last of the Black Emperors is invaluable for all those who’ve never been able to figure out the enduring love affair between Marion Barry and Washington D.C. Barras uses the prism of African-American folklore to crack the code of Barry’s appeal and fatal flaws. The nation’s capital is on the cusp of ending its affair with Barry. Barras offers the kind of ferocious insight and outstanding historical reporting that make The Last of the Black Emperors a huge step in understanding one of the most controversial leaders in contemporary American politics.
–DAVID CARR, Editor, Washington City Paper
I wasn’t that interested in the subject of Marion Barry when I was given this book, but once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. The Last of the Black Emperors is a terrific piece of writing and an exciting read. Barras’ metaphor of the folkloric spider is very appropriate for Marion Barry. Especially impressive is her ability to place Barry’s leadership style not only in a political and historical landscape, but also in the emotional landscape of American racism. Barras teaches us a great deal about the development of black leaders over the last our decades, and delivers a compelling story of Marion Barry, the person, and Marion Barry, the emblem.
–LORI SHPUNT, Professor of English, Trinity College, Washington, D.C.
A no-holds-barred, but in some ways heavy-hearted look at the last of a kind-and, by extension, the times that made him happen.
–COLBERT KING, columnist and editorial writer, The Washington Post
Information is power and, in this book, Barras serves up a heaping helping. With compelling anecdotes, brilliant insights, and real data, she takes you inside Washington politics and into the psyche of African-American voters across the country. With unwavering conviction, she explores myths and master plans by examining Barry the man, and Barry the legacy. For the casual political observer, Last of the Black Emperors is a magnificent treat. For pollsters, pundits, and campaign operatives, it’s a must read.
author, Little X: Growing Up in the Nation of Islam (and third generation Washingtonian)
With keen insight, Barras takes us inside the corridors of DC politics, walking us through the maze of scandals, deal-making, and corrupt government officials. A well-researched analysis; highly recommended for political science collections.
–ANN BURNS, Library Journal
Can you go to jail and still be re-elected? You can if you’re Marion Barry of Washington, D.C….Jonetta Rose Barras…looks at Barry’s career and life in one of the most interesting political books written this year.
–ALAN CARUBA, Bookviews
The Last of the Black Emperors explains the many paradoxes of Marion Barry’s career, and documents the growth of his racial and political identities parallel with those of his largely black constituency…A fascinating, detailed, well researched political biography.
–JAMES A. COX, The Midwest Book Review