Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt (Paperback)

Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt By Orisanmi Burton Cover Image

Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt (Paperback)

$29.95


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A radical reinterpretation of "Attica," the revolutionary 1970s uprising that galvanized abolitionist movements and transformed prisons.
 
Tip of the Spear boldly and compellingly argues that prisons are a domain of hidden warfare within US borders. With this book, Orisanmi Burton explores what he terms the Long Attica Revolt, a criminalized tradition of Black radicalism that propelled rebellions in New York prisons during the 1970s. The reaction to this revolt illuminates what Burton calls prison pacification: the coordinated tactics of violence, isolation, sexual terror, propaganda, reform, and white supremacist science and technology that state actors use to eliminate Black resistance within and beyond prison walls.

Burton goes beyond the state records that other histories have relied on for the story of Attica and expands that archive, drawing on oral history and applying Black radical theory in ways that center the intellectual and political goals of the incarcerated people who led the struggle. Packed with little-known insights from the prison movement, the Black Panther Party, and the Black Liberation Army, Tip of the Spear promises to transform our understanding of prisons—not only as sites of race war and class war, of counterinsurgency and genocide, but also as sources of defiant Black life, revolutionary consciousness, and abolitionist possibility.
Orisanmi Burton is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University.
“A fresh and urgent interpretation of the meaning of Attica. . . . Burton has crafted a masterpiece that, as much as any single book can, shows the way forward for a new generation of activist-scholars, agitators, revolutionaries, and other partisans of human liberation, to redeem the dead and build a new society in their name.”
— Los Angeles Review of Books

“Burton gives readers a deeply-felt look at the activists who participated in these revolts. . . . His interviews with survivors are incisive and reflect an appreciation of the political knowledge and passion that led these men to foment rebellion, however risky.”
— The Progressive

"Tip of the Spear imagines an abolitionist ethic of horizontal possibility and proposes the radical demand that we make meaning together."
— Public Books

"Magnificent. . . . Tip of the Spear is a massive accomplishment of scholarship and political analysis."
— Propaganda in Focus

“Not only is Tip of the Spear an important addition to the growing volume of literature regarding the role of prisons in the racist capitalist state that is the United States, the thesis of the text represents a major evolution in the historical representation of US prisons.”
— CounterPunch

“A remarkable account of how prison repression and reform intertwine, one that poses fundamental dilemmas about whether our legal system can ever properly serve movements for social change. It is a book that will unsettle and enrage you. It should also become the account of Attica that every interested person reads.”
— Inquest

"With Tip of the Spear, Burton hasn’t just salvaged the imprisoned Black radical tradition from the condescension of liberal posterity, but provided a singular lesson in militant intellectual method, shedding stark illumination on the counterinsurgent genealogy of prison reform (between philanthropy and psyops) while doing justice to an abolitionist horizon oriented toward maximum demands rather than piecemeal adaptations."
— Verso Author Pick

 "Not only is Tip of the Spear an important addition to the growing volume of literature regarding the role of prisons in the racist capitalist state that is the US, the thesis of the text represents a major evolution in the historical representation of US prisons."
— The Morning Star

“This book is essential material for undergraduate and graduate courses not only in anthropology, but in a range of disciplines drawing from Black radical theory, abolition and critical prison studies, archives of war and counter-insurgency, masculinity and gender studies, geography, sociology, and the history of social movements in the United States. This is a deep work, rigorously engaging with archives that have historically been dismissed, overlooked, or repressed. It is also beautifully written, inviting us into the worldmaking of Attica.”
— Medical Anthropology Quarterly