In 1972, I read Mack Reynold’s Black Man’s Burden/Border, Breed Nor Birth, a cool looking ACE Double. I discovered the stories were reprinted from ANALOG and written a decade earlier. Yes, there are some politically incorrect aspects to these stories of a group of African-Americans who decide to unite North African countries by creating a mythical leader, El Hassan, to bring progress to suffering people. In the Introduction to “Black Sheep Astray” Mack Reynolds writes that John Campbell, editor of ANALOG , suggested elements of the series.

Later, I learned there was another book in the North Africa Series, The Best Ye Breed, where the Soviets, Japanese and Americans decide El Hassan must be assassinated because he and his group controls too many vital natural resources. Mack Reynolds may have come up with this idea because of the OPEC oil crisis at the time. Nation-building isn’t a common Science Fiction theme, but Mack Reynolds–a SF writer who wrote about politics and economics–delivers a thought-provoking series. GRADE: B+

North Africa Series:
1. Blackman’s Burden (1972) also appeared as:
Variant Title: Black Man’s Burden (2010)
Black Man’s Burden (Part 1 of 2) ANALOG (1961)
Black Man’s Burden (Part 2 of 2) ANALOG (1962)
2. Border, Breed Nor Birth (1972) also appeared as:
Border, Breed Nor Birth (Part 1 of 2) ANALOG (1962)
Border, Breed Nor Birth (Part 2 of 2) ANALOG (1962)
3 The Best Ye Breed (1978)
Blackman’s Burden / Border, Breed nor Birth ACE DOUBLE (1972)
“The Cold War … Continued” NOVA 3 (1973)
“Black Sheep Astray” Astounding: John W. Campbell Memorial Anthology (1973)

12 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #423: BLACK MAN’S BURDEN By Mack Reynolds

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I remember reading the first 2 in Analog as a teenager. Can’t say I remember much about them 50 some years later.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, the story of El Hassan and his followers disrupting the Old Ways to create a progressive nation generates some surprises. The spies and infiltrators pop up unexpectedly!

    2. wolfi

      The same with me …

      But those ACE doubles were something special – got many of them in London in the flea markets.

      1. george Post author

        Wolf, I can’t pass an ACE Double up if it’s in good condition. But they’re becoming very scarce around here!

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    In recent years I’ve read THE BEST OF MACK REYNOLDS and THE MACK REYNOLDS MAGAPACK (big anthology) and there were definitely El Hassan stories – possibly excerpted from the novels? – in there.

  3. Steve Lewis

    I remember Mack Reynolds being immensely popular back in the day, but I couldn’t read him then and I doubt that I could now. I just wasn’t interested in what he had to say. But I think it’s a shame that he’s totally forgotten now, and I’m glad that you’re going to be covering more of his books.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, Mack Reynolds weaved politics and economics into his SF stories. Some of that renders Reynolds’s work as dated. But Reynolds is a natural story-teller.


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