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Black Like Me: 50th Anniversary Edition Third Edition, Third edition Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 372 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0916727680
ISBN-10: 0916727688
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Some actions are so absolutely simple and right that they amount to genius. Black Like Me was an act of genius.” —Cyril Connolly, Sunday Times of London


“[Black Like Me’s] moral power has not diminished with time. It still has things to teach us about the past and the present.”  —Don Graham, Texas Monthly



“An important and classic work, well deserving of this new edition. . . . Essential [for] all public and academic libraries.”  —Choice

About the Author

John Howard Griffin was a musicologist who served, and was injured, in the Air Force during World War II. Blind for a decade, Griffin became an acclaimed novelist and essayist and when his sight returned, almost miraculously, he became a remarkable portrait photographer. Following his cross-racial exploration in the South, he was personally vilified, hanged in effigy in his hometown, threatened with death, and severely beaten by the Klu Klux Klan. Respected internationally as a human rights activist, he worked with major Civil Rights leaders throughout the era, taught at the University of Peace, and delivered more than a 1,200 lectures in America and abroad. He is the author of The Devil Rides Outside and posthumous works such as Prison of Culture: Beyond Black Like Me. Robert Bonazzi is a widely published writer and the author of Living the Borrowed Life, Maestro of Solitude: Poems and Poetics, and The Scribbling Cure: Poems and Prose Poems. He is the literary executor for the estate of John Howard Griffin. He lives in San Antonio, Texas. Studs Terkel was a cultural commentator, columnist, interviewer, and author of many books on American history and culture, including Touch and Go: A Memoir and The Studs Terkel Reader: My American Century.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wings Press; Third Edition, Third edition edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0916727688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0916727680
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (372 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
As I write this review I have my old copy of Black Like Me in front of me. It's a Panther paperback, printed in 1964, bought by my parents, and found by my sister and myself on their shelves a few years later. I can still remember the shock when I read this, at the age of perhaps eleven, at realizing just how inhuman people could be because of something as seemingly trivial as skin colour.
Griffin spent a little over a month--parts of November and December, 1959--with his skin artificially darkened by medication. In that time he traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, finding out at first hand what it is like to be treated as a second-class citizen--or, as he says, as a tenth-class citizen. Everyone now know the story of the big injustices, the lynchings, the civil rights cases, and for most people those are now just another page in the history text book. Griffin's experiences take the daily evils of racism and thrust them in your face, just as they were thrust in his--the rudeness of the clerk when he tried to pay for a train ticket with a big bill; the difficulty he had in finding someone who would cash a traveler's check for a Negro; the bus-driver who wouldn't let any blacks off the bus to use the restrooms; the white man who followed him at night and threatened to mug him.
I've heard people worry that this is the white experience of racism: that whites can read this book and feel good because a white person felt the pain too. I'm white, so I don't know that I can judge that argument completely impartially, but I can tell you that this book profoundly shaped my views on racism, and that any book that can do what this book did for me is a book that is good to have around.
One more thing.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Howard Griffin offered one of the most important contributions to the Civil Rights movement when his work Black Like Me was published in 1960. Griffin approached his study on race relations in the South by asking a very poignant question: "If a white man became a Negro in the Deep South, what adjustments would he have to make?." To answer this question, Griffin shaved his head and had his skin temporarily darkened by medical treatments and stain in order to travel through parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia as a black man.

Griffin had a deep understanding of discrimination even before he began this ambitious project. As a medic in the French Resistance Army, Griffin helped evacuate Austrian Jews away from the advancing Nazis. During the Second World War, Griffin lost his sight and was forced to live with this disability for over ten years. By 1959, Griffin was a published author and a specialist on race relations. Despite such credentials Griffin "really knew nothing of the Negro's real problem." Only by becoming black did Griffin understand what it was like to live as a second class citizen in "the land of the free."
As a black man, Griffin described the variations and similarities of race relations in different areas of the South. Although some states were more "enlightened" than others, blatant acts of racism were found almost everywhere Griffin went.
In Alabama, where Martin Luther King first introduced passive resistance, Griffin endured the hate stares from whites and observed that even graduates from Tuskegee Institute would not be allowed to climb the social ladder in the South because, "whites cannot lose to a traditionally servant class.
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Format: Unknown Binding
Originally published in 1961, Black Like Me is the account of how white journalist John Howard Griffin had his skin medically darkened and traveled through the Deep South as a black man in an attempt to explain the hardships black people in the South faced. It also covers the backlash against the publication of his story.

Black Like Me is a concise, fast and engaging read. The reader is often able to see things through Griffin's eyes, even as Griffin tries to see things through the eyes of others. He does an excellent job communicating the cultures of fear and despair he encountered. The entire account of his travels as a black man is riveting.

If there is any nit-picking to be done, let it be for this: at times, particularly early on, Griffin's descriptions of mundane, everyday objects and details seem forced and do not aid the narrative.

While today's racial tensions are much less overt (and much less publicized), Black Like Me still has quite a bit to say about the universal elements of human nature and the culture of racism.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are only a few books that have really given me a deeper understanding into the issues of the world around us. This book is one of them.

John Howard Griffin penetrates into a world that seems almost beyond belief and yet is undeniably and startlingly real. Realizations await on every page to show that the generally sheltered cultural perspective of the typical white (like myself) could not conceive the situation which confronted blacks in the south every day just a very few years ago -- as experienced by a white man who changed his skin color and dealt with the consequences.

The book is made even better by a series of stories about his experiences after returning to the world of caucausions and going on the lecture circuit about the plight of blacks in the south. He demonstrates the rationalization and close mindedness that characterizes even those who consider themselves "good people".

This book would probably be too much to accept if not for the authors remarkably unassuming and explanatory style. Rarely has such a sore subject been confronted so directly and yet so plainly.

Highly recommended. I keep having to buy new copies because people will read a few pages and want a copy.
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