Dorman’s contribution to this story is the revelation of Drew Ali’s pre-Moorish identity. By means no less forensic than spotting a birthmark in an archival photo, he identifies Drew Ali as Walter Brister, a former cornetist and child star ... Dorman, a sometimes digressive storyteller with a redeeming knack for keeping one amused and amazed, is a historian at the University of Nevada, Reno. His intent is not to discredit Moorish Science but to demonstrate the cultural ingenuity of early African-American Muslims ... The story of Drew Ali’s apotheosis may be vaudevillian, but his influence endures.
Dorman combines a picaresque account of the enigmatic John Walter Brister with a kaleidoscopic history of the origins of the Nation of Islam in this complicated history ... While Dorman often gets bogged down in a litany of names and dates, this remains a remarkable study.