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Pinnacle: The Lost Paradise of Rasta

By: and

A fascinating first-person origin story of Rastafari ideology, culture, and philosophy, capturing a crucial and little-known chapter in Jamaican history

Now available for preorder. All preorders will ship on or before August 6, 2024.

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Forthcoming: 8/6/24

$22.95 $17.21


Now available for preorder. All preorders will ship on or before August 6, 2024.

IN 1932, A JAMAICAN MAN NAMED LEONARD PERCIVAL HOWELL began leading nonviolent protests in Kingston, Jamaica, against British colonial rule. While history books rightly credit Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. with popularizing nonviolent protest strategies in later years, little is known about Leonard Howell and his vision of self-reliance—poor people working together to build a society of their own. When Howell first started preaching on street corners in Kingston, he was immediately perceived as “seditious,” and he became a target for police harassment. Howell soon founded an organization called the Ethiopian Salvation Society. His idea was to add a religious element to Marcus Garvey’s message of African independence. Although Christian values were part of his belief system, he decided to make a break from the Christian interpretation of the Bible and extend the idea of divinity to a living man, Emperor Haile Selassie I, who had been crowned king of Ethiopia in 1930.

Jamaican journalists coined a name for the group: the “Ras Tafarites,” or “Rastas.” Howell was arrested several times and was eventually found guilty of sedition and sentenced to prison for two years of hard labor. In 1940, Howell and his growing group of followers moved to an old estate in the parish of St. Catherine. They named their land Pinnacle, and for the next sixteen years built a self-reliant community that would ultimately give birth to the Rastafari movement.

In 1942, Leonard Howell’s wife Tenneth gave birth to their second child, whom they named Bill. In Pinnacle: The Lost Paradise of Rasta, Bill Howell offers his firsthand account of this utopian community that suffered near-constant persecution from Jamaican authorities. Bill Howell also dispels many misguided notions about the origins of Rastafari culture, including allegations of sexism and homophobia. Pinnacle was built on egalitarian principles, and steered clear of all religious dogma.

Pinnacle: The Lost Paradise of Rasta provides a crucial and highly informed new perspective on the Rastafari subculture that Bob Marley would later help to spread across the globe. The volume includes photographs and original documents related to Pinnacle.

Book Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Published: 8/6/24
  • IBSN: 9781636141725
  • e-IBSN: 9781636141831


BILL HOWELL was born to Leonard Percival Howell and Tenneth Bent-Howell in 1942 at Pinnacle in Sligoville, St. Catherine, on the island of Jamaica. In 1956, Howell and his family were evicted from the land that they had been living on for over sixteen years through a series of corrupt tactics from government officials, wealthy landowners, and crooked lawyers. Howell went on to become one of the first Black art directors working in New York advertising agencies in the 1970s. He has been living in New York for over fifty years.

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HÉLÈNE LEE is a French traveler, biker (Tokyo to Paris on a Yamaha dirt bike!), journalist, writer, documentary director, and translator. For decades she has been writing about African and Caribbean music for the French newspaper Libération and many magazines, along with translating books and writing several of her own. She is best known for The First Rasta: Leonard Howell and the Rise of Rastafarianism, her groundbreaking volume on the founder of the Rasta movement. That book and an award-winning documentary on the same subject have deeply impacted the understanding of reggae music and Rasta. A longtime friend of the Howell family, Lee convinced Leonard Howell’s son Bill to share his own memories of Pinnacle; this book is the only testimony ever published by a member of the original Rasta community.

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