Customer Reviews


15 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful book.
As an African-American journalist, I found Jill Nelson's book to be very real. Those who criticize the book because Nelson strikes them as naive are missing the point, on at least two levels.
In the first place, though she naturally gets into certain generalities, the book is primarily about HER experience. It's not intended to be a handbook for reporters who are...
Published on March 26, 2000 by DBW

versus
29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A rare combination of self-pity that still makes you laugh
The only other author I ever read who so effectively combined self-pity and wry humor was Erica Jong. Jill Nelson turns a wicked phrase and makes her characters and her situations jump to life. I laughed aloud at her description of her teenage daughter telling her "Mom, get a life!" in response to her lecturing about black conciousness. All through the book...
Published on December 15, 1999 by Tom Butler


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insightful book., March 26, 2000
By 
DBW (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
As an African-American journalist, I found Jill Nelson's book to be very real. Those who criticize the book because Nelson strikes them as naive are missing the point, on at least two levels.
In the first place, though she naturally gets into certain generalities, the book is primarily about HER experience. It's not intended to be a handbook for reporters who are climbing the corporate ladder. Given her past, and her particular personality, this is the story of how she happened to react to a specific set of circumstances. How one judges her actions should be different from the way someone judges the book itself.
And secondly, to the extent that the book does have a larger intent, it calls for the dismantling of an outrageously unfair system. Should we all just accept the status quo, and find clever ways to navigate our way past pettiness and stupidity, or strive for a sane alternative?
The fact is that Nelson has done just fine since she left the Post. Viewed in that context, the book is a testament to her courage, and her insistence on personal dignity.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A rare combination of self-pity that still makes you laugh, December 15, 1999
By 
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
The only other author I ever read who so effectively combined self-pity and wry humor was Erica Jong. Jill Nelson turns a wicked phrase and makes her characters and her situations jump to life. I laughed aloud at her description of her teenage daughter telling her "Mom, get a life!" in response to her lecturing about black conciousness. All through the book I kept wondering where Ms. Nelson's gripes came from. Because her dad left her mom for a white woman, as recounted in the book? She grew up in plush surroundings, with summers on Martha's Vineyard. As the number of unread pages shrank, I kept wondering if Ku Kluxers in white sheets were going to suddenly show up in the book to explain her bitter feelings about white males. Ms. Nelson said that white men are priveleged, but believe me, we too can be put through the grinder. I'm also a former newspaper reporter, born the same year as Ms. Nelson. When she complained about her reporting duries at the Washington Post, saying "I was too old to chase fire engines," I had to laugh. That's exactly what I was doing at another paper at the time she said that. I don't buy what Jill Nelson says, but I did enjoy the way she tells it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars indulgent but still a good read, December 15, 2011
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
I enjoyed this memoir, but I did find it very self indulgent. The author lives a life of privilege, yet seems to wallow in self pity, never acknowledging how much better off she is than many other people of color. I can hardly believe she would be surprised to find that a corporate media outlet like the Washington Post is racist and stifling. She is also very superficial and elitist, and ranks people by what they look like how much they weigh, what clothes they wear, etc. Never once does she acknowledge solidarity with other oppressed peoples or express compassion for anyone but herself and her circle, outside of referring to herself as a "race woman" and flatteringly categorizing herself with people like Harriet Tubman, and Thurgood Marshall. Also she seemingly has no concept that anyone exists outside of the U.S. concepts of black and white. Often her snark is also annoying and un-funny but that's what kept me reading I wanted to see if she ever changes or examines herself more deeply but it does not happen. Still an interesting and quick read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You would have to walk in her shoes to understand, February 4, 2003
It is ironic yet predictable that most of the people who don't "get" this book, tend to be individuals who are either not female, African American or both. Jill Nelson wrote an honest critique of the experience that many African American women go through when trying to attain the proverbial golden rings in corporate America. I am sorry some folks could not relate or understand Ms. Nelson's book because the points she brings up are true and still reflective of the socialogical culture most African Americans live in today--approximately twenty years later. The patriarchal blindness that many in this culture experience that prevents them from understanding or relating to another individual or cultures experiences is sad yet expected The best that Ms. Nelson and other writers like her can do is just tell the story and let those who get "it" get it.
Were some of her experiences hard to hear? Most definitely. Were the experiences unique to her? Absolutely not. Ms. Nelson says on in chapter 2, that she has been doing the standard Negro balancing act which is "blurring the edges of [her] being so that they [white people] don't feel intimidated." There are few African Americans, I would venture to guess, who haven't experienced this feeling at one time or another, yet it is virtually impossible to communicate this experience in a way that is understandable to someone who hasn't had to always be "aware" of how they are perceived and how those perceptions can affect other African Americans as well. Ms. Nelson does an excellent job explaining these details and if some people are still clueless, well, it's through no fault of her skill as a writer.
Keep on shedding a spotlight on these issues Ms. Nelson. There are a few out there who are truly looking for the light.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2.0 out of 5 stars Title Caught My Eye; Curiosity Kept Me Reading. Too bad it wasn't worth my time or effort., June 17, 2014
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
I wish I could say that this is the best book I ever read. It wasn’t. I wish I could say it was the worst, though it came close, it wasn't. The title caught my attention on the library shelf. Hence, I borrowed it. It’s supposed to be about the author’s experience with racism at The Washington Post. Question: What racism? I read the entire book and I didn’t see any act of racism towards her. I did see two acts of sexual discrimination toward her by two African American men, including one very crude incident, but no racial bias.
First off, the author is very hostile from the very first page of her ramblings on about being black. I guess from her experience she had to be. I read a great deal: whatever interests me. From the get go, she is very aware she is black. Perhaps that is why without even looking at her, others around her were so aware. Me, I don’t care who you are; sex, race, religion; ethnicity; if your book interest me, I’ll read it. That is what happened here. She says she’s from the upper middle class and educated, but her writing does not reflect it. Perhaps, it is her hostility that hides it. Personally, I don’t know what she was expecting. She was called out of the blue for a premiere job to a ‘white’ run newspaper in 1986; mostly run by white men. She went from being a free-lance writer making $20,000 a year in New York City to making $50,000 a year without the typical qualifications the Post looked for. Yes, she discovers that they hired her as a token black woman to fill a quota, but they could have hired someone else. It was up to her to make a difference, not only for herself, her daughter and blacks everywhere, but she didn’t. Here was a golden opportunity for a woman, a black woman and she didn’t run with it. Why didn’t she? Why did she turn it into a white world versus black me instead? I don’t get it. We all face racism and/or sexism every day in every way and yet we endure and try to make something of it. Why couldn’t she? She chose not to. I’m willing to bet that even now, instead of learning from this experience and moving on, she still focuses on it and hasn’t moved on.
As another reviewer said, she didn’t know the first thing about office politics and obviously wasn’t willing to learn. She was a trouble maker with a big mouth, but if you listen to her, everyone was against her because she was a black woman and not because she didn’t like her job. She signs a travel voucher using her bosses’ initials and sees nothing wrong with that. It was forgery plain and simple. When she gets a week suspension without pay, does she see the error of her ways? No, she blames the management for discrimination and volunteer slavery because she is required to work and not get her paycheck of $1043.00 per week that she hates. She recalls a story of another black female writer named Janet Cooke that made up a story and won a Pulitzer Prize and blames ‘the white folks’ for making her do it. Uh-anyone else see anything wrong with that? The reporter lied, won an award and it was supposed to be okay because ‘the white folks made her do it.’ Not only that, but the reporter lied about her education and background on top of it. Yup; it was discrimination when The Post called her on it. Clear-cut bias.
She went into a job working for people she didn’t like and hated it the entire time she was there. She never tried to like it. All she did was whine how bad how job was. Even her mother told her to stop it and just enjoy the paycheck she was collecting. If it was so bad, why did she stick it out for four long, ‘harrowing’ years?’ Answer: because the money was good and the job was close enough to heaven than any job she ever had. Oh-yes. She was a free-lance writer. She had no ‘real job’. She made her own schedule and worked for no one, least of all ‘the white folks.’ Sister, you had an opportunity with no experience. How many other sisters and brothers actually qualified for that job that you didn’t, yet you got it because someone happened to recommend you when they needed a token ‘sister’? Take a chill pill, girlfriend, because you had it good and you complained. Hell, I would have loved to make $50,000 a year back in 1986 in any job that would have me, especially for one that I didn’t qualify for. In the end, no one actually came out and racially discriminated against her. It was all her perception of how things went down for her.
Overall, an amusing read. Despite what the back blurb promised, I didn’t read of her “harrowing four years at The Post, her experience with poverty, flame-out love affairs, and a nervous breakdown. She went through depression, but no breakdown. It was in no way the “scalding expose of the racial, sexual and corporate politics of The Post.” The adage of never judge a book by its cover is no more appropriate than it is here with this book. I applaud her courage for writing a book and getting it published. I just don’t get why it was a bestseller or a Book Award Winner when it didn’t follow through on what it promised. The blurb was an embellishment in what the book was supposed to be about. There was no racial bias aimed toward her in this book. Sexual discrimination by two brothers, but not by “white folks”. Personally, I think she was just looking for a way to make a buck. She doesn’t particularly think very highly of herself, her mother or her older sister either. Everyone seems to get on her nerves and it’s all “their fault: the white folks”. I’m surprised she didn’t blame the “white folks” for her experience with all kinds of drugs, her sister’s experience with them and her brother Stanley’s drug addiction. That is the gist of this book. None of it is her fault. In the end, she quit The Washington Post. They didn’t fire her. Funny thing is, all that time there, she never parlayed any of it into another job from there. I guess this book was it. She may have been the only black female writer on staff, but she certainly wasn’t the only black. Interestingly enough, she is elected as Union President and leads a discrimination suit against management for women, black staff and older workers, and a variety of ethnic groups, but not just for herself. This alone shows the readers that there was no racism. Otherwise, where was her EEO complaint? Overall, a disappointing book in what it tried to do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read...Especially for Those Interested in Journalism, December 6, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
One of Nelson's best works. Her description of journalism is a must read for anyone interested in joining the field. She is also raw and revealing about her own decisions, and in some cases shortcomings, to keep the reader interested. Nelson has always been very "human" in her work and this is no exception.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Must read, December 6, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
i had to read this for my class then do my final paper on it i end up liking the book its a great read educational and interesting
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars For the lack of knowledge, my people perish..., September 1, 2012
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
I am surprised that anyone believes that access to the materialistic things this society values can somehow negate the discomfort of corporate America for a person of color or render its truth irrelevant.

It is a little like saying that a beatdown by a group of racist police officers hurts less if you are wearing a $2000 suit. Jill's book shares what many of us, male & female, live every day, weather we are conscious of it or not, out designer suits, shoes & briefcases not withstanding.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Woman Who Could Not Handle Office Politics, October 19, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
I agree with the reviewer from 1997 who called Jill Nelson's book naive. This was a silly, nasty memoir! I had to read this for a journalism class once and was amazed that anyone took what Nelson had to say seriously. The book was not about racism, but about Nelson's inability to handle hostile office politics (anyone who has ever read the "Dilbert" cartoon strip knows what I am talking about). If Jill Nelson is reading this, please remember that if office jobs were not called "work," they would be called "play!" Working for "The Man" is the reason why millions play the Lottery! Working for a firm is NOT supposed to be easy! There is a differnce between working for yourself and working for someone else. DUH! A real adult realizes that succeeding in any company involves a combination of talent, work ethic, discipline, and shrewdness to survive Dilbert-style idiocity. Volunteer Slavery is the story of a freelance writer who never worked a daily job in her life, wound up being a minority/female-hire at The Washington Post, failed (as was expected of her by the men who hired her), and wound up back as a freelancer. Those are the facts! Anyone who reads anything beyond this is a fool (or an undergraduate who does not know how the real world operates). To skeptics I pose one question: Why have so many minority journalists at The Washington Post succeeded while Nelson failed? The answer: genuine talent, experience, discipline, and inner-strength! Nelson lacked all of those qualities.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterly, insightful, eye-opener. Don't miss it., February 20, 1999
This review is from: Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience (Paperback)
My introduction to Jill Nelson was through a program on C-SPAN, Washington Journal. She sounded like a straight-shooting, intelligent, thoughtful person. When I finished Volunteer Slavery, after a marathon, can't put it down, day of reading, I knew her to be funny, down-to-earth, experienced and a wonderfully courageous, excellent author. Her ability to tell the story of her Washington Post experience in the context of family life, parenthood, love and loving, and professional activities demonstrates well-honed writing skills and her grasp of what's really going on under the thin veneer of our complex, multi-dimensional lives. She uses words magnificently, provocatively and with a sense of humor and style that had me laughing out loud.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience
Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience by Jill Nelson (Paperback - July 1, 1994)
$16.00 $12.91
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.