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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important works of our time
This book carries such a potent message that it should be compulsive reading for all. Last year I studied Race Relations: apartheid in South Africa and segregation in America, as part of my GCSE History syllabus and happened upon this book whilst browsing in the school library during an English lesson. From the moment I read the synopsis, I could not put it down. It's...
Published on 4 July 2000

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight somewhat spoiled by defending the indefensible
A very interesting book in which a Caucasian man 'becomes' an African-American with the aid of pharmaceutical assistance and make-up. Gives an insight into the depth of hatred towards African people in the US in the 1950s. The book is notable for the author's assumptions that he is not racist, that racism in the US is largely confined to the Deep South and his consistent...
Published 14 months ago by Ifayomi


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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important works of our time, 4 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
This book carries such a potent message that it should be compulsive reading for all. Last year I studied Race Relations: apartheid in South Africa and segregation in America, as part of my GCSE History syllabus and happened upon this book whilst browsing in the school library during an English lesson. From the moment I read the synopsis, I could not put it down. It's the true story of a white man who disguises himself as a black man and travels to the Deep South in the 1950s in order to discover what kind of life a black really lives in a place where racial hatred runs so deep. The results are incredible, heart-wrenching, and deeply disturbing. It inspires self-questioning. It made me wonder: if one can only learn of oneself by how he reacts to others and others react to him, then surely as other's perceptions of him change in reponse to a superficial outward characteristic such as skin colour, his inward sense or perception of self must also change, thus altering the essence of his soul and the nature of his self knowledge. Griffin found himself referring to blacks as 'we' and 'us', and he experienced a frightening identity crisis; after all, when you look black and others respond to you as black and either alienate or integrate you according to your blackness, the only thing preventing you from being black is your (literal) underlying whiteness! It poses questions about society, social groupings and appearances, and ultimately, how the fragile soul can be damaged or altered as a result of the reactions to the body it occupies. After all, does one's soul have a colour?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, and consciousness raising., 29 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
I first read this book almost 15 years ago, following studying an extract in an English class school. It was and remains one of the most consciousness raising books I've ever read, and whilst the times which inspired it are gone, it is still relevant today because of the overall message that perception changes everything.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling tale of the black southern experience., 11 April 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that reflects society......., 21 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
"Black Like Me" has to be one of the most accomplished books of all time by John Howard Griffin. This nonfictional piece of literature begins with Griffin, a Caucasian, pigmenting his skin to a darker brown, a color resembling that of an African-American, in order to feel what it's like to be an African-American. His destination proceeds throughout the South where he records his real-life experiences and encounters with other African-Americans as well as Caucasians. The transformation of his skin pigment leads him to face the discrimination and prejudice from Caucasians yet allows him to feel a sense of unity among the rest of the African-Americans. The differences of Griffins "two lives" (one being white and the other black) contrasts greatly. As a white, Griffin automatically had the opportunity of entering restaurants, shows, and other places without a problem. He remained healthy, physically, emotionally, and mentally. On the other hand, his life as a black made him lose the opportunities of a white, and therefore, Griffin became emotionally, physically, and mentally unhealthy. What does the large contrast between two lives of the same person with a different shade of skin show about human beings? Even though Griffin's experiences took place forty years ago, this book allows us to question whether society has improved and changed or not. In some ways, I believe it has, but in others, the traditional ways have dominated improvement. Unless you are a victim of prejudice today, one can finally perceive how brutal and painful prejudice and discrimination are through the mind of a white man battling the everlasting war of racism within society. -A.H., 16, IL
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!!, 3 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
I am a 13 years old, and we read this in school. It is usually difficult to find a book I will really be interested in, but I couldn't put this down until I finished the assignment! I had to read, read, read, but then I read all I was allowed to, so I stopped. This book in one word I will describe as EXCELLENT!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant classic!, 30 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
I am 16 years old and needed to do a book review on a certian topic. My mum was going to give away a pile of old books that she had had ever since she was 10. I picked up Black Like Me and stated reading it. I couldn't put the book down for a second! It made me feel ashamed to be a "white" person and relise just how cruel the human race can be. I have been researching the topic and discovering many terrible things "whites" did - and still do sometimes - to native people, immigrants, even our neighbours.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading this book is a life changing experience., 3 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like Me (Turtleback)
I really liked this book. Griffin's experience opened my eyes to what life is really like for someone who is black in the South. Everyone should read this book. It will change their way of thinking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking Read, 6 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Black Like Me (Paperback)
An interesting well written book of observations on Black/White reltions in the deep south of the USA. If I had read this in the early seventies I would probably have been quite shocked, but with age and knowledge it becomes a powerful indicment of the way that black people were treated. It is strange that a country that fought a war of Indepence based on being treated fairly an equally, then a Ciivil War almost one hundred years later - of which part of the reason was freeing slaves, then took a further one hundred years to start to realise that what counted was not the colour of someone's skin, but what somebody has in their heart and mind. It's a shame that there are still narrow minded, ignorant people still around who still seem to fail to grasp this. I can understand why it's a required read in schools.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant after all these years., 31 Mar 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like Me (Turtleback)
Although it was written nearly forty years ago, this book points squarely and unflinchingly at unpleasant racial realities that are still too much with us. Taking to heart the axiom about "walking a mile" in the other guy's shoes, the caucasian Griffin altered his appearance in the late 1950's by the use of skin dye and hair treatment, so that he could spend a few weeks on the other side of the curtain of segregation that was an undisputed fact of life in the South. What he learned was not only profoundly eye-opening for him, but can be so as well for anyone who reads him sensitively today.
As a light-skinned African-American who has spent much of my life among whites, I have often observed that perhaps only their becoming black could convince most whites of the reality, the pervasiveness and the persistence of racism in America. Short of that, I would heartily recommend this venerable classic by Griffin.
Especially valuable is the Epilogue, in which the author recounts the experiences he had following the book's initial publication, when he was invited numerous places to expound his insights into America's "race problem." Time and again, he is exasperated to find that those seeking solutions to racial unrest and animosity ignore the perspective of knowledgable blacks, preferring the views of a white man who has briefly experienced blackness over those derived from decades of such experience. In this section of the book, Griffin also offers a superb brief for the value of the perspectives presented in black newspapers and other black-controlled media. His own brief sojourn into blackness had shown him that such perspectives on events are no less valid or "objective" than those coming through the mainstream (white) media, and often provide a healthy and necessary corrective to the latter. It remains true that no American can consider him/herself fully informed on the issues of the day without exposure to a variety of viewpoints, and Griffin's admonitions on the dangers of ignoring black perspectives are as true in 1998 as they were in 1958.
A sobering read, highly recommended to anyone seeking insight into the still-troubled world of American race relations. It would be a grave mistake to assume that the realities Griffin describes in this book ended with the Jim Crow laws. The only reason I would not rate it a "10" is that Griffin is no longer alive to give it a proper updating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!! Fantastic and true!, 21 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Black Like ME (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read this twice--once in high school, once in my 40's and had the same reaction both times! I was in total awe of Griffin's bravery of taking on this challenge to become "black" and letting us share his experience and "awakening" us to our social problems still alive today. I've been in the south in the early in the mid '80s and the early '90s and was totally upset with the attitude of prejudice and bias. I see this almost daily where I live in different forms and don't appreciate it.
I wish Griffin was still alive today as this well written novel could yet be updated still.
I found in "Black Like Me" me cheering for Griffin, verbally advising him not to go into this area or that one, wanting him to "rescue" as many of his brothers and sisters and bring them to safety, out of prejudices way.
The only question I have is, "Is there such a safe place?"
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Black Like ME
Black Like ME by John Howard Griffin (Mass Market Paperback - 20 Mar 1998)
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