Gr 9-12 From a ``pain-filled childhood,'' ``abortive academic career,'' ``short-lived crime spree,'' and seven-year prison term, Himes emerged a protest writer. Although his action-packed, violent novels exposed the tension between the races and revealed his literary talent, American reviewers were often critical. Disheartened by publishing frustrations and racial oppression, Himes went to Europe, joining other expatriate black authors like James Baldwin and Richard Wright. Experimenting with the popular genre of French detective fiction, Himes at last found sporadic success. Nonetheless, he persisted in vividly portraying the plight of the black man in America. The detailed, informative text is supplemented by many black-and-white photographs. Although the explicit language of Himes' novels may be too strong for young adult collections, the life story of this troubled author offers a poignant contrast to often glamorized accounts of American heroes. Gerry Larson, Chewning Junior High School, Durham, N.C.