Maximum Insight
Selected Columns

Bill Maxwell

Foreword by Roy Peter Clark
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“This is journalistic writing at its best.”—Publishers Weekly  
 
“Readers interested in general public affairs with an emphasis on race relations will enjoy this broad social commentary.”—Booklist  
 
“Maximum Insight is a book to be read by those who pride themselves as ‘thinking’ Americans.”—Tampa Bay Magazine  
 
“Just when you start to settle in and relax a little, [Maxwell] pours a cupful of vinegar into your morning coffee. He performs, in other words, exactly as a good columnist should. He’s a thorn in the side of contentment, and he doesn’t much care whose contentment gets pierced.”—FORUM Magazine  
 
“Those looking for a different perspective on black consciousness can find it in this book. There is also considerable history about black life in Florida during the civil rights movement. However, the most significant contribution that Maxwell’s columns provide is a departure from the monolithic views often seen in writings about the question of race in this country.”—Journalism History
 
"One of the most distinctive and independent voices in American journalism . . . a voice that can inspire and infuriate . . . a voice that must not be ignored, especially if we Americans hope to create in this next century something that looks vaguely like a multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy."--Roy Peter Clark, Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg

"Maxwell’s level of erudition is unusual among columnists . . . he often alludes to history, philosophy, literature, and the social sciences as he puts the news of the day into context."--Sam G. Riley, professor of communication studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

"An original and significant contribution to the literature of journalism and Florida culture."--Jay Black, Poynter-Jamison Chair in Media Ethics, University of South Florida

With syndication in more than 200 newspapers and a faithful readership nationwide, Bill Maxwell’s status as one of the country’s preeminent black journalists is unquestionable. This collection of his columns, primarily from the St. Petersburg Times, forms a body of commentary on humanity (and lack of same) that will capture the hearts and minds of Americans.
 
Maxwell covers a sweeping range of subjects, including race—a central but not exclusive theme. He asks hard questions that courageously attempt to understand hatred and injustice in America; and he takes on controversial issues many columnists avoid and a wide spectrum of national figures—from Jeb, George W. and Clarence Thomas to the Pope and Jesse Jackson.
 
Maxwell writes movingly about his childhood as the son of migrant farm workers in rural Florida, his love of books—beginning with those plucked from garbage cans—and his everyday encounters with the white world and the black one. With a voice that is provocative and insights that are deep and passionate, he tackles the plight of migrant workers, the devastation of the environment, religious intolerance, homophobia, affirmative action, illiteracy, public education, civic responsibility, politics—and racism. He criticizes blacks and whites alike in his search for truth and right, especially in his exploration of what he calls “resurgent bigotry and Republicanism” and “the black writer’s most agonizing task—and duty—being dispassionate about the foibles and self-destructive behavior of African-Americans.”
 
Setting a standard for the newspaper column as social criticism, Maximum Insight illuminates the role of the black writer as an interpreter of the forces that define a diverse America.


Bill Maxwell wrote a twice-weekly column for the St. Petersburg Times from 1994 to 2006. His columns appeared in 200 newspapers worldwide and received many writing awards, including the Florida Press Club’s plaque for general excellence in commentary twice in and the Community Champion Award from the American Trial Lawyers Association.
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"A few years ago Cornel West penned a volume called, Race Matters. Now, Maxwell wants to provide maximum insight into why race matters." - New Observer, Philadelphia, PA.
--New Observer, Philadelphia, PA

"Readers interested in general public affairs with an emphasis on race relations will enjoy this broad social commentary."- Booklist
--Booklist

"Maximum Insight as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, a powerful and valuable contribution to the discourse on America's condition and prospects." - MultiCultural Review
--MultiCultural Review

"Those looking for a different perspective on black consciousness can find it in this book. There is also considerable history about black life in Florida during the civil rights movement. However, the most significant contribution that Maxwell's columns provide is a departure from the monolithic views often seen in writings about the question of race in this country." - Journalism History
--Journalism History

"Just when you start to settle in and relax a little, he pours a cupful of vinegar into your morning coffee. He performs, in other words, exactly as a good columnist should. He's a thorn in the side of contentment, and he doesn’t much care whose contentment gets pierced." - Forum, Florida Humanities Council
--FORUM by Florida Humanites Council

“This is journalistic writing at its best.”
--Publishers Weekly

" Maximum Insight is a book to be read by those who pride themselves as "thinking" Americans."
--Tampa Bay Magazine

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