Soul on Ice (1968)

During his time in prison, Cleaver wrote about his experiences there as well as larger developments going on in American society, which eventually led to the publication of Soul on Ice in 1968. The first part of the book deal with his early years, describing how he first ended up in prison and how it affected him. He describes for example his motivations behind the acts of rape he committed and how he changed his views afterward. In it, he also describes his turn toward black nationalism and support for Malcolm X, as well as the effect of his death. The second part is more concerned with specific issues that troubled American society in the nineteen-sixties such as the roles of the police and the military (domestically and abroad respectively) and the influence of Negro culture (as described by James Baldwin and Norman Mailer, among others), whereas the final part explores his theory of the racial divisions in American society and how they have developed in recent years. In terms of style, there is an interesting sort of tension between his fairly lower-class background and his self-trained intellectualism. Although he is well-read and refers to several major thinkers and authors, he is by no means elitist and a lot of his writing is unconventional at best and sometimes outright offensive, for example in his discussions of rape and homosexuality. Some have criticized him for the violence in his language (Evanier), whereas others praised him for confronting white society with its flaws (McKissick), making it a complicated but intriguing text.

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