Megan Harlan
July 26, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson

Current Status
In Season
Jesse Jackson, Marshall Frady

We gave it an A

What makes this galvanic, richly variegated, novelistic biography ring so true is that Marshall Frady, a white Southern journalist who spent six years on the road with his subject, manages to balance society’s shortcomings with Jackson’s own. How Jackson was able to emerge from two generations of poor, unwed teenage mothers to become Martin Luther King Jr.’s closest and most controversial aide, and later the only African-American to run a serious campaign for President (he won 7 million votes in the 1988 Democratic primaries), Frady links to an especially volatile combination: Jackson’s contradictory personality, powerfully driven ego, true moral vision, and phenomenal oratorical powers. Animated by fine-tuned renderings of these characteristics, Frady’s Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson comes off as voluble and dynamic as Jackson himself. A

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