A native of Trinidad, C. L. R. James grew up in a very respectable middle-class black family steeped in British manners and culture. Although justifiably well-known in the British world as a writer, historian, and political activist, his contributions have been underappreciated in the United States. A student of history, literature, philosophy, and culture, James thought widely and wrote provocatively. He also turned his words into deeds as a journalist, a Trotskyite, a Pan-African activist, a Trinidadian nationalist politican, a university teacher, and a government official. James was a teacher and magazine editor in Trinidad until the early 1930s, when he went to England and became a sports writer for the Manchester Guardian. While in England he became a dedicated Marxist organizer. In 1938 he moved to the United States and continued his political activities, founding an organization dedicated to the principles of Trotskyism. His politics led to his expulsion from the United States in 1953, and he returned to Trinidad, from which he was also expelled in the early 1960s. He spent the remainder of his life in England. Among James's extensive writings, the two most influential volumes are Black Jacobins (1967), a study of the anti-French Dominican (Haitian) slave rebellion of the 1790s, and Beyond a Boundary (1963), a remarkable exploration of sport, specifically cricket, as social and political history. Other important works include A History of Negro Revolt (1938) and The Life of Captain Cipriani (1932). James represents an unusual combination of activist-reformer (even revolutionary) and promoter of the best in art, culture, and gentility.
Robert Lipsyte is a legendary sports reporter, award-winning young adult novelist and an outspoken critic of the sports world. Lipsyte has often expressed his controversial opinion that the nation's fixation on competitive athletics is detrimental. He feels that sports should be recreational, not an industry that offers the often false hope of stardom. As a young reporter, Lipsyte covered boxing for The New York Times. He drew on this background for his first book, "The Contender" (1967), a highly acclaimed coming-of-age story in which an orphaned teenager matures through the training discipline of boxing. In 1971, Lipsyte left the Times to concentrate on writing books. His other sports books for young people include "Free To Be Muhammad Ali" (1978) and the "Superstar Lineup" series documenting the lives of famous sports heroes. The author's other novels for adolescents include the semi-autobiographical "Fifties Trilogy: One Fat Summer" (1977), "Summer Rules" (1981) and "Summerboy" (1982). Lipsyte has also written for adults in such books as "SportsWorld: An American Dreamland" (1975) and for television, notably "Saturday Night With Howard Cosell". He received an Emmy Award for hosting the PBS show "The Eleventh Hour"" (1990). Robert Michael Lipsyte was born January 16, 1938 in New York City and earned an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia in 1959. He has been a radio commentator, a television news correspondent, and a journalism teacher. He successfully fought cancer in the late 1970's. Lipsyte's career has come full circle; he once again is writing a sports column for The New York Times and books for young adults. "The Chief" (1993) is the long-awaited sequel to "The Contender".