Richard Wright was generally thought of as one of the most gifted contemporary African American writers until the rise of James Baldwin. "With Wright, the pain of being a Negro is basically economic---its sight is mainly in the pocket. With Baldwin, the pain suffuses the whole man. . . . If Baldwin's sights are higher than Wright's, it is in part because Wright helped to raise them" (Time). Wright was born on a plantation near Natchez, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper. At the age of 15, he started to work in Memphis, then in Chicago, then "bummed all over the country," supporting himself by various odd jobs. His early writing was in the smaller magazines---first poetry, then prose. He won Story Story's $500 prize---for the best story written by a worker on the Writer's Project---with "Uncle Tom's Children" in 1938, his first important publication. He wrote Native Son (1940) in eight months, and it made his reputation. Based in part on the actual case of a young black murderer of a white woman, it was one of the first of the African American protest novels, violent and shocking in its scenes of cruelty, hunger, rape, murder, flight, and prison. Black Boy (1945) is the simple, vivid, and poignant story of Wright's early years in the South. It appeared at the beginning of a new postwar awareness of the evils of racial prejudice and did much to call attention to the plight of the African American. The Outsider (1953) is a novel based on Wright's own experience as a member of the Communist party, an affiliation he terminated in 1944. He remained politically inactive thereafter and from 1946 until his death made his principal residence in Paris. His nonfiction writings on problems of his race include Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos (1954), about a visit to the Gold Coast, White Man, Listen (1957), and Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States.
Douglas Brinkley was born in Atlanta, Georgia on December 14, 1960. He received a B.A. from Ohio State University in 1982 and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in 1989. He was a professor at Tulane University, Princeton University, the U.S. Naval Academy, Hofstra University, and the University of New Orleans. In 2007, he became a professor at Rice University and the James Baker Institute for Public Policy. He is a commentator for CBS News and a contributing editor to the magazine Vanity Fair. His first book, Jean Monnet: The Path to European Unity, was published in 1992. His other works include Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White House, Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion, The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, and Cronkite. He also wrote three books with historian Stephen E. Ambrose: The Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938, Witness to History, and The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today. He has won several awards including the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize for Driven Patriot and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Noel Ignatiev, born in Philadelphia in 1940, attended Penn State and Harvard universities. He is co-editor (with John Garvey) of Race Traitor, an abolitionist magazine. His 1995 book, How the Irish Became White describes the change in the status of Irish immigrants in America in the early 1800s.
David Bradley is a Reader at the University of Surrey, Secretary of the International Radiation Physics Society and edits the journal Applied Radiation and Isotopes. His research interests concern photon scattering, radioanalytical techniques for determination of trace element concentrations and the development of synchrotron techniques for the characterisation of media.