Books: Not Out of Africa

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Startling assertions that Socrates was black and that the ancient Greeks stole most of their great intellectual discoveries from the Egyptians are promoted by radical Afrocentrists in college classrooms across the U.S. In this fierce little polemic, (BasicBooks; 222 pages; $24), Wellesley humanities professor Mary Lefkowitz argues that Afrocentrists substitute pseudo history for the real thing, says TIME's John Elson. "The real problem with Afrocentrism, Lefkowitz concludes, is not that its 'truths' about Greece and Egypt are false. More dangerous is the underlying attitude that all history is fiction, which can be manipulated at will for political ends. The enthronement of this view on campus, Lefkowitz warns, means the death of academic discourse as we know it. Sadly, that seems to be happening. Better for all if Not Out of Africa stirs an equally fierce -- and fair -- polemic from the other side."