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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Justin Gifford Narrator: J. D. Jackson Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The first and definitive biography of one of America’s bestselling, notorious, and influential writers of the twentieth century: Iceberg Slim, né Robert Beck, author of the memoir Pimp.

From a career as a ruthless pimp in the ‘40s and ‘50s, Iceberg Slim refashioned himself as the first and still the greatest of “street lit” masters, whose vivid books have made him an icon to such rappers as Ice-T, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg and a presiding spirit of “blaxploitation” culture. You can’t understand contemporary black (and even American) culture without reckoning with Iceberg Slim and his many acolytes and imitators. Literature professor Justin Gifford has been researching the life and work of Robert Beck for a decade, culminating in Street Poison, a colorful and compassionate biography of one of the most complicated figures in twentieth-century literature.

Drawing on a wealth of archival material—including FBI files, prison records, and interviews with Beck, his wife, and his daughters—Gifford explores the sexual trauma and racial violence Beck endured that led to his reinvention as Iceberg Slim, one of America’s most infamous pimps of the 1940s and ‘50s. From pimping to penning his profoundly influential confessional autobiography, Pimp, to his involvement in radical politics, Gifford’s biography illuminates the life and works of one of American literature’s most unique renegades.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Gifford’s dramatic, hard-core, contextually dynamic, and powerfully affecting biography is sharply relevant to today’s civil rights struggles.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “The first biography of Robert Beck, a.k.a. Iceberg Slim, (1918–1992), builds a compelling case that the pimp-turned-popular author provided the foundation for gangsta rap, Blaxploitation movies, and so much of the underground culture that became mainstream. Gifford transcends the opacity of academic writing in this lively account . . . ‘This is not a story without tragedy. . . . But it is a story of redemption and breathtaking creativity, too,’ writes Gifford, who not only tells the story well, but shows why it’s so significant.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A thoroughly engrossing biography…In addition to lucid critical assessments of Beck’s published and unpublished works, Gifford offers a flavorful account of African American cultural and social history. He makes an entertaining, informing and most persuasive argument that a writer ‘practically unknown in the American [literary] mainstream is arguably one of the most influential figures of the past fifty years.’”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Gifford has written a remarkably researched, fascinating life story of popular writer Robert ‘Iceberg Slim’ Beck (1918–1992). The author’s material is not high literature, and his life can be difficult to read, but Gifford makes a strong case for the enormous popular appeal and the continuing widespread influence of Iceberg Slim.”

    Library Journal

  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for Biographies & Memoirs
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About the Author

Justin Gifford is a professor of American literature and African American culture at the University of Nevada, Reno. His most recent courses focus on zombies in American culture and hard-boiled detective fiction of the post-WWII era. He began his research on Iceberg Slim and black crime literature over ten years ago, after buying the legendary author’s velvet suits and snakeskin shoes on eBay from his widow, Diane Beck.