Book details

The Rebel's Clinic

The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon

Author: Adam Shatz

The Rebel's Clinic

The Rebel's Clinic


About This Book

One of The New York Times’ best books of 2024 so far

Named a best book of 2024 by The New Yorker and Vulture


Page Count
On Sale

Book Details

One of The New York Times’ best books of 2024 so far

Named a best book of 2024 by The New Yorker and Vulture

“Nimble and engrossing . . . [An] exemplary work of public intellectualism.” —Becca Rothfeld, The Washington Post

"Undoubtedly the best [biography of Fanon] . . . A remarkable achievement." —Robert J. C. Young, Los Angeles Review of Books

A revelatory biography of the writer-activist who inspired today’s movements for social and racial justice.

In the era of Black Lives Matter, Frantz Fanon’s shadow looms larger than ever. He was the intellectual activist of the postcolonial era, and his writings about race, revolution, and the psychology of power continue to shape radical movements across the world. In this searching biography, Adam Shatz tells the story of Fanon’s stunning journey, which has all the twists of a Cold War–era thriller. Fanon left his modest home in Martinique to fight in the French Army during World War II; when the war was over, he fell under the influence of Existentialism while studying medicine in Lyon and trying to make sense of his experiences as a Black man in a white city. Fanon went on to practice a novel psychiatry of “dis-alienation” in rural France and Algeria, and then join the Algerian independence struggle, where he became a spokesman, diplomat, and clandestine strategist. He died in 1961, while under the care of the CIA in a Maryland hospital.

Today, Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth have become canonical texts of the Black and global radical imagination, comparable to James Baldwin’s essays in their influence. And yet they are little understood. In The Rebel’s Clinic, Shatz offers a dramatic reconstruction of Fanon’s extraordinary life—and a guide to the books that underlie today’s most vital efforts to challenge white supremacy and racial capitalism.

Includes 8 pages of black-and-white photographs

Imprint Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The News

"[A] nimble and engrossing new book . . . As Shatz shows in this exemplary work of public intellectualism, in which he does not sugarcoat or simplify, [Fanon] was every bit as much a victim of empire as the patients he worked to heal."—Becca Rothfeld, The Washington Post

"Absorbing . . . Shatz [. . .] is a mostly steady hand in turbulent waters. His chosen title highlights a side of Fanon that often gets eclipsed by the larger-than-life image of the zealous partisan — that of the caring doctor . . . What gives The Rebel’s Clinic its intellectual heft is Shatz’s willingness to write into such tensions." —Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times Book Review

"Undoubtedly the best [biography of Fanon] . . . With The Rebel’s Clinic, Shatz for the first time puts psychiatry in its rightful place in Fanon’s life and thought—at the center . . . A remarkable achievement." —Robert J. C. Young, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Adam Shatz goes beyond crass simplifications of both Fanon and his legacy and gives us back the man in full: political radical, expansive humanist, philosophical existentialist, practising psychiatrist, freedom fighter, father, husband, son. Fanon did more with his 36 years than most of us could manage in three lifetimes. An extraordinary book about an extraordinary man." —Zadie Smith, author of The Fraud

“Excellent and thought-provoking . . . All too timely . . . The Rebel’s Clinic should be read by anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the intellectual origins of today’s ‘decolonial left,’ whether they sympathize with it or not.” —Adam Kirsch, Air Mail

"Shatz [is] a writer and editor with a rare gift for taking tricky, often controversial figures and doing them justice. Shatz scrupulously explains what Fanon thought, why he thought it, and why he matters." —John Powers, NPR

"[The Rebel's Clinic] is not only a superb addition to a large and largely hagiographic literature; it is also a contribution to one of the greater theoretical challenges we face today: Is it possible to create a genuinely universalist political ethic that avoids the pitfalls of earlier ones? . . . Without clichés, strained metaphors, or false starts, Shatz’s flowing prose makes the radicality of Fanon’s claims look like common sense . . . [A] superb biography." —Susan Neiman, The New York Review of Books

"A terrific new biography of Fanon." —Lydia Polgreen, The New York Times

"A strength of The Rebel’s Clinic is the meticulous charting of the schools and figures that influenced Fanon’s thought . . . Engrossing . . . [This book] deserves to be the first stop for anyone looking for an introduction to Fanon’s life and work." —Erik Linstrum, The New Republic

"The Rebel's Clinic could not be more timely . . . Shatz’s book [is] a remarkable work of intellectual synthesis: a comprehensive, readable introduction to Fanon’s writings that places his incredible life against the political and cultural debates that informed it . . . [The book] glitters with wonderful details." —Ken Chen, The Nation

"A masterful new biography." —Edo Konrad, The Guardian

"Perhaps the most intellectually rich [biography of Fanon]. Shatz, one of the great essayists of our time, presents an imperfect and brilliant figure—one that complicates the predominant myth of Fanon as a one-dimensional apologist for violence . . . Shatz breathes life into Fanon, urging us to think alongside him to make sense of our current world." —Arvin Alaigh, Dissent

"An author needs to comprehend a staggering number of things to write a biography of Frantz Fanon . . . It is Adam Shatz’s understanding of all these things as well as of Fanon as an individual that makes his book such a superb example of historical biography." —Daniel Geary, The Irish Times

"The Rebel’s Clinic is an impressive accomplishment . . . [Shatz] is one of the finest political essayists working today. His best pieces have a deftly allusive style, revealing a wide-ranging intelligence that Fanon would have admired . . . His wide-lens approach allows for a much deeper understanding of the contexts within which Fanon operated in the various phases of his life." —Anthony Alessandrini, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Vividly written . . . Unabashedly erudite." —Michela Wrong, The Spectator

"[Shatz] is an expert guide through the thicket of Fanon-lore that has emerged since his death in 1961, and his book offers a compelling account of Fanon’s transformation from a medical student into a global icon of anti-colonial revolution." —Kevin Ochieng Okoth, Foreign Policy

"Shatz's book distinguishes itself by connecting Fanon's thought to the livewire debates facing us in 2024 . . . The themes of self-determination and dignity [Fanon] addressed in his work will be even more pressing for a rising generation of activists and thinkers . . . They will do well to read Shatz's satisfying biography."—Tomiwa Owolade, The New Statesman

"[A] deft and engrossing biography . . . The Rebel’s Clinic is adept at examining what Fanon proposed in [place of colonial psychiatry] and, thus, an invaluable record of how his thinking and practice evolved." —Christopher Lane, Psychology Today

"A sensitive and affectionate biography."—Tunku Varadarajan, The Wall Street Journal

"[An] insightful biography . . . Shatz is a sober and informed guide [to Fanon]. He is an erudite writer, [and] his frequent detours into the intellectual currents that surrounded Fanon—from existentialism and the francophone black consciousness movement Négritude to Algerians’ varying attitudes to FLN tactics—are useful." —Daniel Trilling, Financial Times

"Engrossing . . . Like all great biographies, The Rebel's Clinic reveals the person behind the legendary persona . . . Elegantly written, sweeping and scope, and perceptive in its analyses." —Vaughn Rasberry, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"[A] timely and engaging new book . . . Shatz restores a sense of wholeness to Fanon’s life and work." —Sam Klug, Boston Review

"Shatz makes a powerful case for a more complex reading [of Fanon] . . . Shatz writes convincingly and movingly of Fanon's enduring commitment to his clinical work and his patients . . . Shatz demonstrates deep historical knowledge [. . .] and produces some new insights." —Megan Vaughan, The Literary Review

"Shatz has produced a brilliant interpretative analysis of Fanon the man and his ideas, a richly engaged understanding of Fanon’s ideological metamorphosis from Negritude to Third Worldism to revolutionary socialism." —John P. Entelis, Journal of North African Studies

"A sober and thorough new biography of Fanon . . . One gift of The Rebel’s Clinic is that it amplifies the radical nature of Fanon’s work within the hospital setting."—Sasha Frere-Jones, 4Columns

"[A] perceptive biography . . . Elucidating the ideas and figures that animated Fanon’s thinking, [. . .] the nuanced narrative skillfully illuminates how the disparate threads of Fanon’s life fit together . . . Shatz also provides discerning commentary on Fanon’s two masterworks . . . A striking appraisal of a towering thinker."Publishers Weekly

"[A] thoroughly researched biography . . . The Rebel’s Clinic is a deep meditation on the transformative power and influence of one radical philosophical writer on the continuing fight for justice on many fronts."Booklist (starred review)

"The Rebel's Clinic is a diligent, scrupulous, serious book. Adam Shatz keeps Fanon alive as one of us—a human being—not simply the larger-than-life subject of an academic study. This book offers a careful reconstruction of Fanon's times, especially the war in Algeria, and resonates at a moment when we are tragically no closer to solving the problems Fanon dedicated his life and writing to understanding."—John Edgar Wideman, author of Fanon and Look for Me and I'll Be Gone

"Frantz Fanon has found his Isaac Deutscher in Adam Shatz. Politically and psychologically suave, The Rebel’s Clinic is as illuminating on the tragic pattern of Fanon’s private life as on the tumultuous continents through which he moved. It is also continuously insightful about Fanon's tormentingly complicated intellectual bequest on the crucial subjects of race and empire."—Pankaj Mishra, author of Run and Hide and From the Ruins of Empire

"Adam Shatz offers a richly detailed account of the life and thought of Frantz Fanon. It is at once an intimate and unsparing portrait of the complexities of Fanon’s life as psychiatrist and militant political activist, and a vivid depiction of the anti-colonial struggles in which he engaged. We get a close look at internal conflicts among revolutionaries, as Fanon makes his way from Martinique to Algeria to sub-Saharan Africa. Shatz’s masterful command of the history of that moment of promise in the early 1960s is compelling, indeed gripping reading. This is a book that gives deep insight not only into the life and times of Fanon, but also into the ways in which the history he lived was made."—Joan W. Scott, professor emerita at the Institute for Advanced Study

"The Rebel's Clinic is a triumph, a sweeping work of intellectual history that is also an intimate biography of a remarkable thinker and historical figure. It is beautifully written, deftly constructed, rigorous and illuminating. This is a book that will last and be read for many years."—Eyal Press, author of Dirty Work

"The Rebel’s Clinic is a fabulous book. Frantz Fanon’s life as portrayed by Adam Shatz is a breathtaking love and jealousy ridden encounter with philosophy, politics, and literature, taking place in the last days of European empires."—Ivan Krastev, author of Is It Tomorrow Yet? and co-author of The Light that Failed

"Adam Shatz has captured Fanon's evolution as a thinker by linking this proud, fastidious man's interiority to a complex network of contexts: family, war, art, psychiatry, existentialism, black America, left-wing Catholicism and, most of all, African poetics. The result is the most subtle, comprehensive and lucid study yet to appear in English.Shatz has the gift of explanation without simplification."—Declan Kiberd, author of Inventing Ireland

"More than a biography, Adam Shatz’s The Rebel’s Clinic is a rich and textured portrait of the intellectual and political worlds that shaped Frantz Fanon’s life, ideas, and legacies. Readers who know Fanon’s work intimately as well as those just discovering this iconic figure of Third World revolution will learn from this book."Adom Getachew, author of Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination

"Adam Shatz sweeps us up in Frantz Fanon's life-as-road movie, with a cast of characters and an array of settings that come alive on the page, from Sartre and Beauvoir in Copacabana to Patrice Lumumba in the suburbs of Léopoldville. At the same time, with his unequaled mastery of geopolitics and world-spanning ideas, he has given us an intellectual history of a century of revolutionary aspirations. The Rebel's Clinic is a what is to be done for our times."—Alice Kaplan, author of The Collaborator and Looking for The Stranger

"The Rebel's Clinic is a fascinating and enlightening read, one that will speak to many and that will help correct misconceptions about Fanon. This book not only provides a full picture of its subject; it also inspires the reader to apply Fanon's insights to situations that transcend his life and times. Adam Shatz has written an important book that speaks to our troubled and confusing moment."—Raja Shehadeh, Orwell Prize–winning author of We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I

About the Creators

The Rebel's Clinic

The Rebel's Clinic