people are saying about Jonetta Rose Barras'
"The Last of the Black Emperors"
Last of the Black Emperors is wonderful
colorful, exciting, honest, and stylishly written
eye-opener for America that everybody will be talking about
--RALPH COLLIER, host of the nationally syndicated
radio program, "I Hear America Talking"
A deeply rewarding book. Ms. Barras is lucid both in her
writing and her reportage. She deftly places Mayor Barry as
the last beneficiary of a bygone era in black politics. All
said and done, Marion Barry has been read his political obituary.
--MAX RODRIGUEZ, publisher, The Quarterly Review
This honest and in-depth look at the life and times of our
national capital's most tenacious mayor not only helps us
to better understand Marion Barry the man, but it also vividly
expresses the unique political and social character of one
of the last surviving city-states. Jonetta Rose Barras brings
us an insightful and provocative perspective to the successes,
tribulations, and resurrection of this "Old Guard"
political activist-turned "Mayor for Life." Her
book will forever stand as a historical analysis of the politics
of the post-civil rights era and a prophecy for the future
of American blacks in our nation's political framework.
--ARMSTRONG WILLIAMS, nationally syndicated columnist,
author of Beyond Blame
An eloquent and disturbing book. Barras relocates the transfixing
story of Mayor Marion Barry's rise and fall and rise and fall
from the arena of electoral politics to the realm of cultural
myth and religious belief. In a political sense, Barras's
book tells us that we will have to leave behind the baggage
of racial superstition if we are to confront the real problems
of the nation's capital and our other cities in pain. Barras'
book leaves you with more questions than answers, but they
are questions that we dare not avoid as we move into the next
--JAMIN B. RASKIN, Professor, Washington College
of Law, American University
Marion Barry has done his stubborn best to clothe himself
in a hopefully impenetrable cloak of insufferable hubris and
racial pride. With clarity, passion, and often outright dismay,
Jonetta Rose Barras unravels Barry's cloak - and shows that
this particular emperor is about as naked as naked gets.
--ARTHUR J. MAGIDA,
author of Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His
The story of Marion Barry is the story of a life and rare
opportunity recklessly misspent, and Jonetta Rose Barras,
who knows Washington much better than most, captures this
story with sympathy and sensitivity. In an unflinching dissection
of man and opportunity, she shows us why and how Marion Barry
cheated himself, his city, and all the rest of us.
--WESLEY PRUDEN, Editor-in-chief, Washington Times
The most comprehensive and descriptive study to date of the
elusive Marion Barry. Because of her thorough background and
research, Barras has managed not only to capture the essence
of one of America's most complex political personalities,
but also to help us understand the sinister dynamics fueling
Barry's political juggernaut.
Associate Professor of Public Administration, George Washington
The Last of the Black Emperors is invaluable for all those
who've never been able to figure out the enduring love affair
between Marion Barry and Washington D.C. Barras uses the prism
of African-American folklore to crack the code of Barry's
appeal and fatal flaws. The nation's capital is on the cusp
of ending its affair with Barry. Barras offers the kind of
ferocious insight and outstanding historical reporting that
make The Last of the Black Emperors a huge step in understanding
one of the most controversial leaders in contemporary American
--DAVID CARR, Editor, Washington City Paper
I wasn't that interested in the subject of Marion Barry when
I was given this book, but once I started it, I couldn't put
it down. The Last of the Black Emperors is a terrific piece
of writing and an exciting read. Barras' metaphor of the folkloric
spider is very appropriate for Marion Barry. Especially impressive
is her ability to place Barry's leadership style not only
in a political and historical landscape, but also in the emotional
landscape of American racism. Barras teaches us a great deal
about the development of black leaders over the last our decades,
and delivers a compelling story of Marion Barry, the person,
and Marion Barry, the emblem.
--LORI SHPUNT, Professor of English, Trinity College,
A no-holds-barred, but in some ways heavy-hearted look at
the last of a kind-and, by extension, the times that made
--COLBERT KING, columnist and editorial writer,
The Washington Post
Information is power and, in this book, Barras serves up
a heaping helping. With compelling anecdotes, brilliant insights,
and real data, she takes you inside Washington politics and
into the psyche of African-American voters across the country.
With unwavering conviction, she explores myths and master
plans by examining Barry the man, and Barry the legacy. For
the casual political observer, Last of the Black Emperors
is a magnificent treat. For pollsters, pundits, and campaign
operatives, it's a must read.
author, Little X: Growing Up in the Nation of Islam (and third
With keen insight, Barras takes us inside the corridors of
DC politics, walking us through the maze of scandals, deal-making,
and corrupt government officials. A well-researched analysis;
highly recommended for political science collections.
--ANN BURNS, Library Journal
Can you go to jail and still be re-elected? You can if you're
Marion Barry of Washington, D.C....Jonetta Rose Barras...looks
at Barry's career and life in one of the most interesting
political books written this year.
--ALAN CARUBA, Bookviews
The Last of the Black Emperors 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...A fascinating, detailed, well
researched political biography.
--JAMES A. COX, The Midwest Book Review