Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Reprinted from Masterplots. Revised second edition, edited by Frank N. Magill. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1996, pp. 438-41.


The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century tells the impressive and inspiring story of an individual’s struggles, defeats and accomplishments, as well as his major ideas developed during ninety years of a life dedicated to promoting racial equality and the sociological study of African- American realities in the United States. The Autobiography presents a view of American life distilled through the perceptive, analytical eyes of this country’s foremost African- American intellectual, William Edward Burghardt Dubois. Progressing from the reconstruction era at the end of the U.S. Civil War, through two World Wars, to the height of the Cold War and the atomic age, DuBois’ personal reflections provide a critical, panoramic sweep of American social history of a scope usually restricted of necessity to novels, such as Mari Sandoz’ The Tom-Walker. Dubois’ Autobiography, like that of sociologist Jane Addams’ Twenty Years at Hull-House, is simultaneously a history of personal and social struggle seen from the perspective of a central participant.