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Workin' on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History (Class : Culture)

Workin' on the Chain Gang: Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History (Class : Culture)
Author: Walter Mosley
ISBN 13: 9780472031986
ISBN 10: 472031988
Edition: N/A
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication Date: 2006-12-27
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
List Price: $17.95

A passionate examination of the social and economic injustices that continue to shackle the American people


Praise for Workin’ on the Chain Gang:


“. . . bracing and provocative. . . .”

Publishers Weekly


“. . . clear-sighted . . . Mosley offers chain-breaking ideas. . . .”

Los Angeles Times Book Review


“[A] thoroughly potent dismantling of Yanqui capitalism, the media, and the entertainment business, and at the same time a celebration of rebellion, truth as a tool for emancipation, and much else besides. . . .”

Toronto Globe and Mail


Workin’ on the Chain Gang excels at expressing feelings of ennui that transcend race. . . . beautiful language and penetrating insights into the necessity of confronting the past.”

Washington Post


“Mosley eloquently examines what liberation from consumer capitalism might look like. . . . readers receptive to a progressive critique of the religion of the market will value Mosley’s creative contribution.”



Walter Mosley’s most recent essay collection is Life Out of Context, published in 2006. He is the best-selling author of the science fiction novel Blue Light, five critically acclaimed mysteries featuring Easy Rawlins, the blues novel RL’s Dream, a finalist for the NAACP Award in Fiction, and winner of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Literary Award. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in New York.


Clyde Taylor is Professor of Africana Studies at NYU’s Gallatin School and author of The Mask of Art: Breaking the Aesthetic Contract—Film and Literature.

Publishers Weekly

Mosley, the author of the popular and critically acclaimed Easy Rawlins mystery series and other novels, issues an ardent manifesto that addresses the political and economic "chains that define our range of motion and our ability to reach for the higher goals" under capitalism, and argues that these "chains might be more recognizable in the black experience, but they restrain us all." Pointing out how "history, economics, self-image, the media, politics and our misuse of technology" limit us, Mosley boldly calls for an aggressive reevaluation of how public information, social life, work and identity are constructed in the United States, invoking a simple axiom: "What we need is a reexamination of the people and their needs." While he claims not to be specifically advocating socialism, he targets an economic system that values corporate profits over the lives and well-being of workers as the main source of psychic and physical pain and ill health in our society. His evaluation of U.S. politics is harsh ("What kind of democracy gives you two candidates who represent less than 5 percent of the population?"), but his message is idealistic, even utopian in its simplicity. In the end, Mosley urges his readers to take responsibility for their own lives and to use their imaginations to envision a new world: "The only way out is to be crazy, to imagine the impossible... to say what it is you want." Less a rigorous political proposal than a cri de coeur against the stifling of the human spirit, Mosley's short book is a bracing and provocative declaration of intellectual and political independence. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.