The 1990 FBI videotape of Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry smoking crack transfixed television viewers nationwide. Shouting now-notorious obscenities at the woman who helped agents trap him, Barry was publicly disgraced, his personal and political life apparently wrecked. But in 1994, following his release from federal prison, Barry was elected once more to serve as mayor of the nation’s capital. How did Barry pull off his political resurrection? Why are African-Americans so enamored of him? And why, despite his return to power, has Barry’s story so dramatically lost promise? In The Last of the Black Emperors, author Jonetta Rose Barras 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.