The author of Stolen Legacy, George Granville Monah James, was born in Guyana to Reverend Linch B. James and Margaret E. James. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Durham University in England, then proceeded to earn his doctorate at Columbia University in New York. James served as a professor of Greek and Logic at Livingston College in Salisbury, North Carolina, and then taught at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff. Shortly after the publication of Stolen Legacy, which he completed while at the University of Arkansas, James died under mysterious circumstances. Popular rumors suggested he might have been killed because he exposed intimate knowledge related to the Masonic tradition. Others believe that James died because his work challenged the idea of white racial supremacy by contending that the Greeks got their information from Africans, especially ancient Egyptians.
James's seminal work, Stolen Legacy, was completed in 1954 and exposed the Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle as fraudulent in their claim to have originated the philosophies and equations with which they are credited. The uncovering of this deception dissolves the myth of the primacy of ancient Greek intellectual, scientific, theological, and cosmological contributions to humanity. The notion of the absence of Africa's contribution to humanity is also dissolved in Stolen Legacy, which reveals where and how the Greek philosophers took their information from the Africans. In order to show the connections between the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, James delves into the philosophical development of the most important Greek philosophers and exposes their ideas as consistent with the earlier ideas of African philosophers.
According to Stolen Legacy, the perception of Aristotle as the wisest man ever to live, which is based on the contents and expansiveness of his writings, is suspect. Pythagoras was expelled from Italy, Socrates was executed, Plato was sold into slavery, and Aristotle was indicted and exiled. If the knowledge and wisdom they were credited with was indigenous to the Greek paradigm, why then would they have been punished and ostracized by their societies? Furthermore, James asks, how could Plato, a philosopher, instruct Aristotle, a scientist? According to James, it is physically impossible for Aristotle to have researched and published the works he is credited with in a single lifetime.
Stolen Legacy has become one of the most frequently discussed books in Black Studies. It has captivated the minds of classicists like Mary Lefkowitz, been the topic of discussion for educators like Asa Hilliard and Tony Martin, and been used by scholars such as Martin Bernal and Molefi Kete Asante to make points about the valuable contributions of Africans to world culture. Stolen Legacy is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating books in the field of Black Studies.
- Asante, Molefi Kete. (1999). The Painful Demise of Eurocentrism. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. This work is Asante's response to Mary Lefkowitz's controversial Not Out of Africa. Asante demonstrates the relevance of Egyptian ideas and philosophies to the making of the ancient world.
- Bernal, Martin. (1987). Black Athena. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. This book created a strong argument for rethinking the conventional ideas about the Greek origin of civilization.
- Bynum, Edward Bruce. (1999). The African Unconscious: Roots of Ancient Mysticism and Modern Psychology. New York: Teachers College Press. Bynum pulls together an immense body of African knowledge into one volume.