on May 27, 2004
I read this book some years ago and was more impressed then than now. Unlike most authors, Mc Call actually admits that he was a an active participant in a gang rape. To actually have such a violent and humiliating crime published in one's own autobiography, the author would have to be very honest, insane or a liar.
As hideous as some parts of this book, I still gave this book to my nieces, daughters and other young Black impressionable females who seem to mindlessly believe anything a Black man tells them. Some months after my adolescent niece read McCall's works, she confessed that she completely broke ties with a young man she had been dating because he showed a lot of Mc Call's tendencies. Some years later, this same young man has impregnated several different women, 3 of which gave birth to his children in the same week (while he was unemployed). Today, he is doing a life sentence in prison for violent crimes.
As disturbing as Mc Call's work is, I have used it for good. Every mother should know where her son is at night. Also, blaming white people for your problems is no reason for McCall commiting the same sins (color casting, rape and robbery).
Finally, if Mc Call committed all the crimes he claims, he should now publish a NEW novel covering his efforts at some form of victim restitution to the individuals, businesses and others he has violated in his past. Well, how about it, Mr McCall?
on October 14, 1999
How can Nathan McCall expect any sympathy from any person when he describes raping young women, young black women, and expresses absolutely no remorse? When he fathers children out of wedlock, and blames it on the women? When he cheats on women and tries to blame it on society. You're mad at the world Nathan, but it's everyone's fault but your own. Even beating a white kid half to death because he happened to ride a bike through your neighborhood is SOCIETY's fault. Oh please, break out the violins and give this guy a tissue to cry on. If you want to read a book that really covers this topic, read the classic Manchild in the Promised Land.
on October 18, 1999
McCall should have given his novel a more appropriate title. Instead of "A Young Black Man in America" it should read "A Petty Criminal in America." That's really all this book is about. I believe the "black" part got thrown in the title (and only minimally throughout the book) as a marketing technique to guarantee profits from Black readers.
I resent this book being classified with African American literature. It should be in the True Crimes section of any bookstore. Basically, McCall writes about his misadventures as an adolescent thief and rapist. He then grows into a full-blown adult robber, liar and ultimately a convict.
I won't even go into McCall's baby-breeding, child-deserter pattern. (Liz's mom had the right attitude towards Nathan during Liz's pregnancy. Go, girl!) The rape issues are well-covered by previous reviews. Even though I am Black, the opening chapter of McCall and his hoodlum buddies nearly killing an innocent white kid was nothing more than an attention-getter scene for the book, aside from a terribly violent act.
What's also awful is that McCall still can't provide the reader with an excuse for his thuggery. That's because most immature and irresponsible people blame others. McCall came from a very decent background therefore he can't blame his parents. AT an early age, he simply CHOSE to be a criminal!
Another thing! Why was this guy featured on a Barbara Walters interview? Why is he continually on BET as some sort of representative of Black America? His only contribution is his pair of books, both titled after Marvin Gaye songs.
Black authors, please let your "blackness" be your virtue and strength, not your weakness or excuse!
on July 12, 2000
Sometimes you have to stand up for stuff like that. I read the first third of this book, then pages here and there, and I was disgusted. I was digusted the same why as when I read American Psycho years later, but at least in AP's defense, it was FICTION. This book had potential, it could've been a real look at a system that doesn't care about the people that are in it, how he rose above all of this and achieved anyway. But Mr. Mcall seems happy just telling us how it's everybody's fault but our own, and "did I tell you the time I gang-raped this girl?" "Or how it was some girl's fault that she got pregnant, and I'm not taking care of it". This book marked my one and only failed class in college, I refused to finish it. I let my mother read some of it, and after she read about 10 pages, she completely supported my decision. There are much better books about the human condition, don't waste your time here.
on March 2, 2009
Here is the premise of the book, in a nutshell (words mine): "Hi, I'm Nathan McCall. I grew up in the ghetto, man. I was a thug, yo. White boys should know better than to ride their bikes through MY turf! I was real gangsta back in the day. Me and my buddies gang-raped a 13-year-girl a while back. I got away with it but served three years in prison for robbery. Damn the system! I impregnated several women and ditched them, 'cuz I'm a playa like that. All this happened because I got a raw deal out of life, and hated myself. And all that is whitey's fault!" Need I say more? Makes ME wanna holler indeed!
He does make some valid points about the very real problems facing the black community, and how life in the ghetto really is tough, but apparently fails to realize that his racist, misogynistic, cowardly, callous, and coldly unrepentant attitude is part of the problem, not the solution. He hurts his cause far more than he helps it. The death of personal responsibility is one of the biggest problems in this country, affecting every race, and this rag just fans the flames. Worse than even the worst "gangsta" rap song. He shows absolutely zero remorse or even sympathy for his rape victim. And he expects sympathy for a parasite like himself? Gimme a break. This book was apparently intended to show what is wrong with America. How ironic that it does exactly that, but not in a way the author would find flattering.
on January 22, 2012
I read this book years ago as part of a book club. It made me sick then and it still makes me sick today.
This author, like Eldridge Cleaver before him, is a sick rapist of black women and girls. He and his friends used to run trains (forced group rape) on poor unsuspecting black girls in their community.
This is how sick the author is: He and his friends were going to run a train on a girl that was pregnant with his child. His reasoning: If she were sexually involved with other men (whether consensual or not) he thought he could deny the child belonged to him. He was leading the way (his friends were following in another car), but the girl, suspecting that something was up, JUMPED OUT OF THE MOVING CAR before anything could happen. Sickening!
He left behind a number of fatherless children. He stole and robbed before ending up in prison. He was emotionally disconnected from the child he did claim, who he pretty much abandoned for some time. He did drugs. He sold drugs. He shot a man. He did everything in his power to destroy himself and his community. The only thing this author did that separated him from a number of his friends is he completed high school.
He got out of prison and was given a full year scholarship to a local state college...just sickening. Our society is backwards. HIS VICTIMS SHOULD HAVE RECEIVED A SCHOLARSHIP TO SCHOOL OR AT LEAST GIVEN THE SATISFACTION OF KNOWING THEIR RAPIST GOT HIS. In fact, he ran across one of his victims while attending school and I can only imagine how the poor girl must have felt when she saw her rapist.
Somehow or the other this man is allowed to have a career at a well known university. He is allowed to prosper and write books. This book and his thoughts are PRAISED by critics. Meanwhile his victims are probably STILL traumatized by his actions today.
Growing up I heard stories about black boys "running trains" on unsuspecting black girls and most of these black boys saw NOTHING at all wrong with their actions. Many of them bragged about it. I think it is a fairly common practice. Yet black men have the nerve to walk around wondering why so many black women and girls have an "attitude" or hate black men. It is a hatred they brought on themselves.
Anyone curious about the nonsense black women and girls in the black community have to deal with from black men and boys need to read this book. You will see exactly where the "attitude" come from and why there is such distrust and hatred.
Notice how the author tries to portray himself as some type of victim throughout the book.
Notice how this author admires the likes of a drug dealer from a fictional film (Super Fly) and a neighborhood rapist known for running trains on spaced out junkies.
Make note of the reality that this author grew up in a middle/working class community with a mother and a step-father.
Make note of the reality that he and his friends turned their middle/working class community into a GHETTO.
Probably most important of all...this author was born in the 1950s and came of age in the 1960s/1970s. This just proves that the dysfunction is generational and predates my generation (born in the 1980s)...the generation most agree is lost.
on October 13, 1999
I am an African American female.
I have very mixed feelings about this novel. What was GOOD -- explaining the criminal mind while engaging in a crime, high school rivalries, prison life, post-prison life.
What was SAD -- McCall's anger/hatred/violence directed at black women, the girls he gang-raped in high school, the one he planned to kill after sex in a car, his crazed criticism of his wife, his illegitimate children (again blaming their mother alone as if he himself never heard of a condom).
Also, SAD -- McCall had no problem committing crimes against black people in his own community yet he admitted that he would dare not challenge a White police officer's authority on the street! Also, this lying, raping, stealing excuse of a Black man gets caught by America's justice system and now he cries "racism" the way his female victims tried to cry "rape." Like them, no one hears McCall's cry. Next, McCall lies to get a job and is upset over getting caught! He steals and is upset over being watched by others! DUHH! -- MCCALL, YOU ARE MISSING A FEW FRIES FROM YOUR HAPPY MEAL!!
The worst part of this novel is that McCall grew up in a decent home with a father/stepfather. Yet McCall criticized everyone: his stepfather working for white people, Blacks who travelled, white people (yet he confessed having sex with a white woman was some kind of Black male rite of passage).
This is a well-written book by a very disturbed criminal who happens to be a black male. (The book's subtitle is a complete misnomer!!) The only time McCall claims "Blackness" was when he got himself in trouble and needed a way out.
on November 20, 2002
When Mr. McCall finished his book by saying, "It makes me wanna holler and throw up my hands", he almost described my reaction perfectly. Almost. Actually, it makes me wanna holler and throw up.
I forced myself to finish this book despite wanting to throw it aside in disgust many times. Only Mr. McCall's writing skills and my desire to "hear him out" got me to the end of his screed. Why he's garnered so many rave reviews on this site, however, is beyond me and shows what a double standard exists in this country with respect to racial attitudes (and who's allowed to hate and who isn't). I suppose it's because so many are thrilled to have a raw, honest look inside the author's head in order to see what makes a black man tick. The hatred that he spews toward all whites and this country is sickening and hypocritical, though, and will leave a bad taste in your mouth long after you put the book down. (I wonder if a book by David Duke blaming all of society's ills on the black man would be received so well. Yeah, right.)
Mr. McCall wants to be treated a certain way by whites and yet makes no attempt to hide his own loathing of people who are different than him, i.e. "crackers". By his own admission, he found that he came to like some of the folks he worked with once he got past his own prejudice. (Thanks Danny.) At the end of the day, it's really got nothing to do with skin color. If Mr. McCall ever gets a chance to travel to his "homeland", he'll discover places in Africa where slavery still exists but it's black men enslaving other black men. He can then visit Rwanda to see where genocidal acts have been committed by the Tutsis and Hutus against each other. And when he gets back to the States he is welcome to come out to my city where the Crips and the Bloods try to kill each other. Whether it's skin color, tribal affiliation, or gang membership, blind hatred always comes down to one thing - fear and loathing of differences between people.
If someone feels this book deserves a high rating because it's a pretty good read, I can't fault them too much for that. It is. But for those that hold Mr. McCall out to be some noble warrior who is doing his best to rage against the machine, give me a break. I'd have much more respect for the man if he took responsibility for his poor choices and irresponsible actions instead of blaming everything on Whitey. How sad. Perhaps in his next book he can attack the problem of men oppressing and devaluing women. He seems to have a particular expertise in that field. I wonder if that makes him want to holler too?
on June 17, 2012
If you are looking for insights into a black man's psyche, you will find this book insightful. If you are looking for insights into the race problem in the US, you will be dismayed as I was. The first 100 pages were difficult to read because of McCall's descriptions of the appalling crimes he perpetuates, especially on poor, weak blacks. During a prison term he repents on his crimes or at least decides they aren't helpful to his life. (There is little talk of remorse or restitution.) After being released, he impressively turns his life around, finishes college, and becomes a successful journalist.
One way that McCall did not change was in his hatred of whites. He always "knows" what white people are thinking and feeling about him; he always assumes the worst, even though he hates it when people make racial assumptions about him. The book is full of sweeping statements such as "When it comes to blacks, whites have no conscience."
He also has the annoying tendency to blame all conflict on racism. There is no recognition of the fact that whites also deal with bullies, unfair bosses, competitive coworkers, etc. Even though he ends with a successful career and opportunities that people of any race might envy, in his mind he is a perpetual victim of white oppression.
In the first chapter, McCall and his gang beat up a white boy who simply rode his bike through the neighborhood. Toward the end, he is still fantasizing about beating up his white coworkers. He concedes that "there are some good white people," but the irony of this statement from a former drug dealer, rapist, thief, and vicious thug seems lost on McCall. To me, this was the most troubling aspect of the book: He is intensely conscious of racism in whites, but completely blind to it in himself.
on September 8, 2011
The book itself is very well-written, insightful, honest, and powerful. McCall is obviously a very intelligent and articulate person. However he is also unbelievably angry, disturbed, self-centered, and morally-bankrupt.
He complains about whites stereotyping blacks yet stereotypes whites constantly.
He complains about social injustice while he robs people at gunpoint.
He complains about historical white oppression while he organizes gang-rapes of black girls.
He complains that white people are scared of blacks while he attacks white boys for fun.
He complains about not being able to break into mainstream society yet spurns every white person's attempt to form an academic, professional, or personal relationship with him.
He complains about white's portrayal of black families while he leaves behind four children with three different single mothers.
He complains about all the external forces keeping him down while never quite realizing that his own selfishness and anger, as well as his penchant for drugs, aggravated assault, rape, and armed robbery might be the roots of his problems.
He has parents, grandparents, brothers, friends, women, children, professors, employers, and other mentors that support him along the way but does everything he can to turn his back on them so he can wallow in his anger and self-pity.
He complains about race relations yet does EVERYTHING in his power to foster and widen the gap. This book sets race relations back a few major steps.
If a book like this was written and published by a white person it would be labelled a hate crime. What a disgusting a-hole.
Read the book and tell me I'm wrong.