Alexander has assembled a potpourri of seventeen pieces about Farrakhan, ranging from the scholarly (by Ernest Allen, Jr., on the evolution of the Nation of Islam-the single best quick survey of this subject, incidentally) to the hysterical (by Leonard Pitts, Jr., on Farrakhan's ability to incense white Americans). The short articles also range from the enthusiastic (Aminah B. McCloud lauds his "realistic road to solutions") to the condescending (the editor: "I find the idea of Farrakhan as Dangerous Black Leader a ridiculous proposition") to the outraged (Itabari Njeri considers him "the worst thing that could happen to Black people at the dawn of the twenty-first century").

If no consistency can be found in their approach or their views, one generalization can be hazarded. Few of the authors, not even the several Muslims among them, take Farrakhan's Islamic aspirations very seriously. Repeatedly, they stress that his unique place in the life of American blacks has been won despite the outlandishness of his cosmology and the severity of his way of life. They see him rising to his current position of importance due to an ability to organize and to articulate African-American resentments, plus his perverse ability to alarm whites; they attribute little role to the quasi-Islamic content of his mission.