Now Lefkowitz has returned to the fray with a third book, a far more personal one. History Lesson describes the events that led up to the writing of Not Out of Africa, and its consequences. It is essentially a memoir, but it also offers some searching reflections on present-day academic and intellectual life.
Lefkowitz’s first intimations of what was in the air came in the 1980s. One of her students complained that during a class on Plato she had failed to point out that Socrates was black. (There is no evidence that he was.) Another student wrote to a campus newspaper protesting against a screening of the film Cleopatra, since the main role should have been given to a black woman rather than to Elizabeth Taylor. (It is conceivable that Cleopatra’s paternal grandmother was black, since nothing is known about her. Her other
grandparents were all of Macedonian Greek descent.)