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Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America

Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America

4.6 88
by Nathan Mc Call

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In this "honest and searching look at the perils of growing up a black male in urban America" (San Francisco Chronicle), Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall tells the story of his passage from the street and the prison yard to the newsroom of one of America's most prestigious papers. "A stirring tale of transformation."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The New Yorker.


In this "honest and searching look at the perils of growing up a black male in urban America" (San Francisco Chronicle), Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall tells the story of his passage from the street and the prison yard to the newsroom of one of America's most prestigious papers. "A stirring tale of transformation."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The New Yorker.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McCall's autobiography-a seven-week PW bestseller-tracks his trajectory from the streets of Portsmouth, Va., to prison, rehabilitation and a job at the Washington Post; features a new introduction by the author. (Feb.)
Library Journal
McCall pulls out all the stops to tell the story of his rise from poverty to success as a journalist at the Washington Post . He uses graphic language, blunt descriptions, honest expression, introspection, and careful observation to describe his early years in Portsmouth, Virgina, as a young black male, the recipient of a 12-year prison sentence for armed robbery, whose life was dangerously out of control. Insensitivity, alienation, racial hatred, drugs (especially crack), guns, rape, robbery, the black American as an endangered species--McCall covers it all in a depressing yet spellbinding documentary of a contemporary American problem so complex as to be almost intractable. The power of this strong narrative transcends McCall's personal struggle; each reader will ``wanna holler'' about the situation.-- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
School Library Journal
YA-An autobiography that captures the pain, anger, and fierce determination of a black journalist writing today for the Washington Post. McCall's open and honest description of his life as a boy in a black neighborhood in Portsmouth, VA, his participation in violent criminal acts, and his eventual imprisonment for armed robbery seem somehow to be an expression of the rage of so many young people in America's urban areas. While imprisoned, he worked as inmate librarian and was so moved by Richard Wright's books that he became fascinated by the power of words and decided to become a writer. Though he's made a successful career against great odds, he makes it plain that he doesn't feel completely at ease with his peers in the establishment or those on the streets. His difficult story is told in such an immediate and compelling fashion that young people will be caught up in this strong narrative and gain real insight into McCall's growth and change and, thus, contemporary urban issues.-Patricia Noonan, Prince William Public Library, Manassas, VA
John Mort
One of the more harrowing passages of McCall's autobiography describes the practice of lulling teenaged girls into "trains," or gang bangs. But almost everything is harrowing in this story of a black man succeeding in a white world--rivalries among gangs, drug use, violent crime; even the efforts of a strong mother and stern stepfather, and the fact that McCall was a good student, were not enough to keep him out of prison. There he became a Christian, then a Muslim, all the while reading voraciously. He learned the printing trade and began to write. At last he returned to college, graduated, and made a steady, if tortuous, ascent to the "Washington Post". The latter portions of his book detail his attempts to come to terms with his destructive youth, whether it's through raising his son or looking up the victim of a train. He also comments on the ongoing newsroom wars between white men and white women--still another process, he feels, by which black journalists are excluded from real power. Despite McCall's success--and some celebrations of that success, as in his coverage of and travels with Andrew Young--this is no triumphant memoir. It's frustrated, angry, and worried, as if the story were far from complete. A good companion would be Jill Nelson's account of working at the "Post", "Volunteer Slavery".
From the Publisher
"Not since Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land has there been such an honest and searching look at the perils of growing up a black male in urban America....A compelling depiction of the toll that racism and misguided notions of manhood have taken in the life of one black man—and, by implication, many others."—The San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.47(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.42(d)

Meet the Author

Nathan McCall grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia.  He studied journalism at Norfolk State University after serving three years in prison.  He reported for the Virginian Pilot-Ledger Star and the Altanta Journal-Constitution before moving to The Washington Post in 1989.

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Makes Me Wanna Holler 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
EmpressLay More than 1 year ago
For every single black woman && man in America, this book should be required reading. One cannot deny that the African-American experience is a unique one and that there are very few modern writers supplying a fair, observational and personal look on the matter. Nathan McCall is a great story-teller and you'll be able to do nothing but sulute him after reading his touching memoir. Besides being inspired by his own triumphs, this book can provide young black men with a blueprint to compare thier own possible grim African American experience to and it also can provide insight to some black women in their love troubles in finding the "good black men." It also touches on African-American troubles such as the lack of family structure, Black's constant presence in the prison system, and the overwhelming reality of racism in America, even in 2008. McCall keeps it real, from the first page to the last. So just READ THIS BOOK!... It's that good and you'll certainly learn something, regardless of your race !
AnthonyV More than 1 year ago
Posted 10/19/2009: This book completely blew my mind. It sets an example for everyone, whether they are young or old. This book was just such an inspiration. The natural story of an ex-con struggling to get ahead in life through racial controversies and African-American stereotypes is just interesting. You will learn something from this book no matter what race or gender you are. It is both devastating how the narrator has gone through such a rough childhood and how his bad choices have led to the life of a prison convict. Every time McCall makes a bad choice, you are on the edge of your seat waiting to see what will happen to him. When he eventually starts to describe the hardships in prison and all the crimes he has committed while he was in a gang, you start to feel an emotion of exploding passion for him. His mistakes teach you what NOT to do to be successful. This book is definitely a must-read that will "slap-you-in-the-face" and give you a quick reality check! This book should be a requirement to read. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS BOOK!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. McCall, you took me down memory lane but I didn't go as far with some of my experiences as you did. This book should be a must read for all black males. THANK YOU !!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just received the book today via UPS. Something drew me to open the book right away, no particular page, and read anything. No matter where I opened the book, (its been several sections now), it stirred up my soul!!! I write to several inmates very often and I wonder if they have this book in the prison library or have even read it. I'm going to ask them if they do and offer to send this to them, if they don't. I just started mentoring a couple of adolescent boys I consider 'at risk' in my neighborhood. This is my book of choice for reference from and to read to them. This includes my son who may not be 'at risk' but he is at that influential phase in his life where things can go either left or right. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book for reading. This is a great addition to my ethnic library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will hold your interest but some of the content is repulsive. It is even more repulsive when you think that it is factual. I do not agree with the premise of this book but I will hand it to the writer. He put his personal struggle as a black man in America out there for all to see. I respect him for that. I do not agree with much of his portrayal or excuses for why he behaved the way that he did. There are no excuses for certain behavior!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nathan McCall is 'right on the money' when he talks about racism in America being a black male. The book is very inspirational and motivational. Every black male should read it and be able to apply what he learned to their lives. Outstanding.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Makes Me Wanna Holler is an autobiography about the main character Nathan Mccall. He tells a story about himself starting from the streets that some African Americans live in and the prison yards that Nathan Mccall was in throughout his life. Mr. Mccall believes that the rage in a man can kill himself and when he was in prison always looking over his shoulder, he realized that he would need to change his life around or he will end up dying before he gets out of prison.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh gods, yes. Too fu<_>cking true.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good, but this is one of my summer reading. It is one of those insperantal books for young black men.
Writergeek More than 1 year ago
I vividly remember when I was 14 and I saw this book and the beautiful, well-designed cover featuring a poised, alert, and strong black man and I was immediately drawn to the book. I was instantly curious. I was never a reader and it was rare for me to pick up any book for leisure outside of any assigned academic project, but I opened the first page and began to read "Makes Me Wanna Holler". My God! I was utterly mesmerized by just reading the first chapter that focused upon McCall's rebellious, reckless, and anger (misguided)-fueled youth, and I couldn't abandon the book! As a kid, I read the book every day while I saw my peers playing video games, basketball, or other activities. I was reading for the first time upon my own accord and it wasn't for any classroom assignment and it was truly shocking for me. Each time I am asked what my favorite book is and I immediately announce that it is "Makes Me Wanna Holler". It has been my favorite book for 17 years and it is truly an amazing, well-written, lyrical, and powerful book replete with elegant and polished writing, stirring accounts of harrowing and embarrassing incidents, and part cautionary-tale and coming-of-age narrative. McCall deftly illustrates how challenging American life can be for a young black with and without a good education and how he overcame so many personal plights with courage. I identified with the admirable McCall and how he learned several key lessons in life through his older set of friends who had been more experienced than he and his love for music and writing. It was pretty cool to see that we both yearned to become writers at a young age, and McCall's powerful memoir spurred me to become a writer as well. In addition, this brilliant book had amazingly transformed me into a lifelong and voracious reader! I became a bibliophile after I had savored the memoir with the stunningly crisp sentences, action, memorable lessons, and McCall's searing and enlightening observations and truth. McCall's memoir was a crowning achievement and I immediately recommend this book and I hope that other people when come to enjoy this book as much as I have because it made me wanna holler because I have been so impressed with its composition!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kaiandelijah More than 1 year ago
My father had me read this book before I went to college. That was over 10 years ago abd I still can talk abot this book. I have read it several times. This is a book that I think ALL young men should read especially our young black brothers. This book is AWESOME in so many ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maxime Diatta More than 1 year ago
Great book im 14 and i think this book is worth the money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lytbrte More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book... Its based in Portsmouth, va and I grew up in the city next to it but familiar with these parts. However being that I am an 80s baby, its kinda cool picturing how the cities in the area has changed over the last 25 years! I also love it because it shows how real life could be if you weren't born with a silver spoon
corey smith More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was thrilled as I began to read this book. McCall is very honest about his experiences and this is good. I can get passed the excessive profanity, even though I don't appreciate it, because I know that this was an important part of his experience. However, I quickly became appalled by grotesqueness of some of the content and had to put the book down. Chapter 6 is absolutely disgusting; I don't think that he needed to include this story in his narrative, at least not in the detail that he did. Furthermore, there is no excuse for this type of behavior. Nevertheless, I cannot fully pass judgment on this book because I did not finish reading it. Reader beware is all I have to say. You need to be very thick-skinned to read this book.
Iceboy More than 1 year ago
Do you want to read a fantastics book? Well look no further because Makes me wanna holler by Nathan McCall is a thrilling book. At the start of the book, Nathan the author is just a normal kid with a nice middle class family. Nathan is a little boy not very tall and also not very strong. He is the youngest of the 3 older brothers and he lives in a protective black family. And also I like this book how the author talks actually admits that he was a an active participant in a gang rape. Nathan is a young man he is a lean and not very strong. He started on a path of destruction when he started going to an all black school and was influenced by the one of the old heads named scooby. Because it was either fit in or get dogged on. And you wouldn't want to get dogged on. When he tried to start to fit in that was what started his life to being to spiral out of control. In This book works powerfully as a personal story. Before making it as a journalist, McCall served time for armed robbery. Before that, he had shot a black man. These are only some of the many climactic events in a story; others include gang violence, random beatings, hate crimes, gang rapes of black girls simply because they were vulnerable. In depicting these horrors, McCall makes a bold style choice. Apart from a few showing comments that suggest a more mature perspective, McCall stays close to the perceptions of the troubled boy he was: Gang rapes are a form of male bonding, blacks must stick together, whites never give you a chance. And that blacks are boys compare to the white man. The author Nathan McCall is being true to his subject, the process of growth. The style becomes more reflective. And is easier to see because Nathan tells the truth and dose not hide anything. McCall's family background and house seem more stable than those ones of typical bad house hold with a pattern of violent and criminal behavior. In addition, convicted felons do not typically go on to successful careers in journalism and to the authorship of best selling books. Is what surprised me the most on how he came back from such a background and going to jail. And thats why I liked the book and all the shocking parts that made me think twice about life.
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CALLitLIKEiSEEit More than 1 year ago
McCall's story makes me truly appreciate that he shared this experience. It helped me gain new perspectives on the black male point of view. Very well presented. I could "see" the struggles, the bravado, the dysfunction, the false hope. Well done indeed.