Walter Mosley

"Workin' on the Chain Gang: Shaking the Dead Hand of History"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark APR 6, 2000)

I saw an interview with Walter Mosley on the Jim Lehrer show about his first nonfiction book. I was so impressed with Mosley's thoughts, that I went out and bought it.


This book is one of the Library of Contemporary Thoughts publications of long essays by notable writers. Mosley started out to write on African American experience at the dawn of the new millennium, but quickly turned his thoughts to all America. His premise is that although slavery was outlawed more than a century ago, ALL of us wear chains. Anyone working for others are part of a new kind of chain gang, one in which poverty is only a few paychecks away because we are controlled by an economic system in which "value" means profit. "Some of us are cogs in the economic machine, others are ghosts, but it is the machine, not race or gender or even nationality, that drives us." Mosley doesn't offer a solution, but he does offer a way for everyone to start thinking for themselves. He recommends that we just stop, turn off the TV and think what we really should be doing with our lives then all Americans would be better off. He says too many people confuse democracy with capitalism. The state of America is not a democracy.

Since this essay is written before the 2000 election, Mosley nominates himself as a presidential candidate and describes the platform he would run on. Carl and I always say that when you buy something you are in a sense voting. In this case I'd like to think it's true and that others will vote for Walter Mosley by purchasing Workin' on the Chain Gang, Shaking Off the Dead Hand of History.

  • Amazon readers rating: from 13 reviews

(back to top)

Bibliography: (with links to

Easy Rawlins Mysteries:

Socrates Fortlow novels:

Paris Minton and Fearless Jones Mysteries:

Leonid McGill, P.I. series:

Crosstown to Oblivion:


Movies from books:


(back to top)

Book Marks:

More reviews of Walter Mosley's books:


(back to top)

About the Author:

Walter MosleyWalter Mosley, born in 1952, grew up in Los Angeles and has been at various times in his life a potter, a computer programmer, and a poet.

His books have been translated into twenty languages. Devil in a Blue Dress received the 1990 Shamus Award for "Best First P.I. Novel" from the Private Eye Writers of America and was also made into a movie starring Denzel Washington. His collection of short stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, a 60 year-old philosophical ex-convict, in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was also latered released as a movie.

He has been the president of the Mystery Writers of America and a member of the executive board of the PEN American Center and Founder of its Open Book Committee and on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. In 2002, Walter Mosley won a Grammy for "Best Liner Notes" for a Richard Pryor box set.

Mosley lives in New York City. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014