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Manchild in the Promised Land Paperback – December 27, 2011
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Daniel A. Poling Brown's Harlem is alive in a way that no black ghetto has heretofore been brought to life between book jackets.
Nat Hentoff "Book Week" Sprung from the alley, a rare cat...As a survivor among the dying and the dead, Brown tells it like it was-and like it still is.
"Atlanta Journal" He writes about his life -- and Harlem -- with frank, brutal, and beautiful power. Mr. Brown's graphic narrative will make you laugh, cry, think, and possibly understand.
Dick Schaap "Books" This is a magnificent book, not a good book, not an interesting book, a magnificent book....It is a guided tour of hell conducted by a man who broke out.
Tom Wolfe "Manchild in the Promised Land" is Claude Brown's unforgettable epic of growing up as a boy on the streets of Harlem. His Zola-esque gift for slices of life is made all the more striking by his brilliant insights into character and social pressures.
Tom Wolfe "New York Herald Tribune" Incredible! No Negro writer ever told the whole street thing in Harlem: Claude Brown is the first.
James Baldwin A tremendous achievement.
Norman Mailer The first thing I ever read which gave me an idea of what it would be like day by day if I'd grown up in Harlem.
Romulus Linney "The New York Times Book Review" It is written with brutal and unvarnished honesty in the plain talk of the people, in language that is fierce, uproarious, obscene and tender.
William Mathes "Los Angeles Times" Sometimes a unique voice speaks out so clearly and with so much passion that it comes to speak for an era, a generation, a people...and we have to listen.
About the Author
Claude Brown was born in New York City and grew up in Harlem. At age seventeen, after serving several terms in reform school, he left Harlem for Greenwich Village. He went on to receive a bachelor's degree from Howard University and attended law school. He also wrote a book called The Children of Ham in 1976. Manchild in the Promised Land evolved from an article he published in Dissent magazine during his first year at college. He died in 2002 at the age of 64.
Nathan McCall, author of Makes Me Wanna Holler, has worked as a journalist for The Washington Post. Currently, he teaches in the African American Studies Department at Emory University and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most of all, for me, Brown's memoir is filled with regret for the many from his Harlem neighborhood who died, victims of crime, poverty, alcoholism and drug addiction. Indeed, one could say that one of the major characters of his story is heroin, which Brown describes as the scourge of his generation. The power of heroin to destroy is most poignantly described in Brown's recounting of his relationship with his younger brother. Claude took his responsibilities as an older brother seriously, but his younger brother fell victim to addiction, and Brown was forced to admit that he had lost him.
As the book develops, an interesting change occurs in Brown's narrative voice. In the early stages, he describes with a defiant pride his wild exploits as a child and adolescent, which landed him in juvenile homes, and nearly got him killed. As he describes himself getting older and he eventually leaves Harlem, Brown's voice takes on a mixture of affection and regret as he talks about going back to the neighborhood and seeing old friends, many of whom had fallen on hard times.
In the end, Brown's story is one of achievement. While he escapes the poverty of his youth, he refuses to forget his roots. In this sense, "Manchild"'s spiritual descendant is Sandra Cisneros' great novella, "The House on Mango Street," whose main character realizes that one must "go away to come back." Brown forges an inspirational story that overcomes despair in its power to shape memory and find meaning in a difficult life.
Just when it seemed that Sonny was headed towards the destructive path his friends were on, he pulled himself out, which is surprising because Sonny was the baddest kid in his community. I think mentors like group home professional, Papanek and his mother paved the way for Sonny to have optimism in life. It was sad to see that when Sonny got out of the boys home, he actually missed being there. Once home, he'd actually get on the "jail bus" to go back to the home, if for nothing else to have a conversation with his mentors.
His young love relationship with a girl that ended up on Heroin was very touching to me. "Nodding" was not something Sonny wanted to see any of his friends or loved ones do and when he sees his brother Pimp nodding for the first time, that literally changed my life. This was and always will be the book that kept me from ever using or sampling drugs. Manchild in the Promised LandI even had an inkling to what street life was about. It's Claude Brown and Manchild in the Promise Land. Kudos to you my brother. May you rest in peace.