One of the most remarkable autobiographies of our time, Manchild
in the Promised Land is a seminal work of modern literature published
during a literary era marked by the ascendance of black writers like Richard
Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Alex Haley. This thinly fictionalized
account of Claude Brown’s childhood as a hardened, streetwise criminal trying
to survive the toughest streets of Harlem has been heralded as the definitive
account of everyday life for African Americans raised
in the northern ghettos of the 1940s and ’50s. When the book was first published
in 1965, it was praised for its realistic portrayal of Harlem—the children,
young people, and hardworking parents; the hustlers, drug dealers, prostitutes, and
numbers runners; the police; the violence, sex, and humor. The book continues
to resonate generations later, not only because of its fierce and dignified
anger, not only because the struggles of urban youth are as deeply felt today
as they were in Brown’s time, but also because of its inspiring message.
Now with an introduction by Nathan McCall, here is the
story about the one who “made it,” the boy who kept landing on his feet and
became a man.
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