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Knock on Any Door Hardcover – 1947


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Review

"Motley wrote of [Chicago] and its people with brutal honesty and with exquisite sympathy. There are sections of Knock on Any Door that might move you to tears and other parts that will move you to anger."—Bill Granger, Chicago Tribune Magazine

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 504 pages
  • Publisher: D. Appleton-Century; 1st edition (1947)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0006AR4UI
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,157,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Ian Muldoon on April 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
"What's life?" " A magazine." " How much it cost?" "Twenty cents." "I only gotta dime." "That's life." After 45 years I still remember parts of Knock on Any Door. I related more to that book than to any other I read as an adolescent in the 50's. Why is that? I'm not Catholic. I'm not American. I didn't speak the language of Nick. Willard Motley is an underappreciated writer who deserves the highest accolades in touching a chord in young people . The film with Humphrey Bogart directed by Nick Ray didn't do justice to the book. From the first word to the last I lived every word with Nick Romano and his life still echoes with me. Sound sentimental? No. Sounds like great writing. The music, the pool halls, the tenements, the "windy city", the guilt. It was a life to me. Thank you Mr Motley wherever you are or wherever you may be resting.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Adam Selzer on December 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was afraid to pick this book up. It was several hundred pages in a battered paperback (which would break before I even finished the book), and the print was small. But I decided to give it shot. A few hundred pages later, I drove several miles back to a junior high school gym, thinking that I'd left it there. It was in my front seat the whole time, but I couldn't bring myself to think that the trip was wasted. Once you start this book, you'll be glad to drive an awfully long way to be able to pick it up. This book drew me in in a way that few books have (I wouldn't think that a book about a person like Nick Romano could be compared to Harry Potter, but, well, here we are.) This is a novel that may just change the way you look at the world. It will change the way you look at juvenile crime and punishment, it will change the way you think of the death penalty. It's not just Nick who's stayed in my mind. It's all of the small characters. There are people who show up for about a page, and I've never been able to forget them. It's a terrible shame that Willard Motley isn't often mentioned when people discuss the greatest writers of the century; I've read my share of Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Bellow, and this book puts Motley in the same class as all of them. Not only did I put an awful lot of effort into getting my hands on the sequel, but I found myself seeking out copies of every book listed on the "other books you'll enjoy" page at the front of the book. It's that kind of novel. This book is important. Now more than ever, when, as one reviewer points out, people like Nick are being executed weekly in Texas. Get it, read it, and encourage others to do the same. Don't let this classic fall into obscurity.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Baldwin 72630.2340@compuserve.com on August 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Many years have passed since i was 17 in 1955 and first read Knock on Any Door. Now i am 62 and read it for the 2nd time. Mr. Motley wrote a masterpiece, a classic that will live a long time. Like Nick I came from a poor background and was a rebellious teen. I identified with Nick when I was 17. I understood his feelings toward society in general and authority in particular. For years I wondered if I would feel the same. When I had finished reading it, I realized how much my attitude had changed over the years. I kept seeing opportunities where he could take his life on a different path, but always he took the easy way out. Still, Mr. Motley's skill made it impossible not to empathise with Nick.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Buxx on October 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Of course there are writers that use their brains, and writers that write with their hearts...Willard Motley spills his guts all over the pages in every one of his four novels.

I first read KNOCK ON ANY DOOR when I was a freshman in high school, and got sent home with a letter to my parents for bringing "unacceptable reading material to school"!!! I have read that book at least three more times, and each time it is a belly punch. The Bogart movie did not do justice to this fine work.

I did not know Motley was African-American, until after I finished his thrid novel.

Willard Motley was not just a great novelist, he was what the heart and soul of this Nation should be.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By jerry wheeler on November 18, 2001
Format: Textbook Binding
I first read this book when I was 14. I am now 67. I was living in what is now a horrible, drug-ridden, part of the city (Jackson and Crawford). I had lots of fights, played a lot of pool, and shopped on Maxwell Street on weekends. As I grew up, I fought a lot and became a bartender at the College of Complexes on State Street. I still find myself thinking of Nick Ramano growing up from an alter boy to a bum who made drinking money by rolling drunks. Willard Motley is (or was) an outstanding author capable of creating characters that were so realistic that I still think of them 53 years later.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
I read this book 41 years ago , i was not very well educated my school only taught religion and self preservation, i left at 15 . One day i found this book on a bus and took it home it was on the shelf for a month or two then one night i started reading my first novel i could not put it down i found a new pleasure in life instead of going out every night hanging round with the gang and breaking the law for kicks i changed and i put it down to this book knock on any door, i found the author understood my feelings and it was so easy to understand thank you Willard Mottley
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