100 books like Manchild in the Promised Land

By Claude Brown,

Here are 100 books that Manchild in the Promised Land fans have personally recommended if you like Manchild in the Promised Land. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Hoax: A Memoir

Gary Taylor Author Of Luggage by Kroger: A True Crime Memoir

From my list on true crime memoirs written by actual participants in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my 45-year career as a newspaper and magazine journalist, I covered a wide range of events on a daily basis. As a police and courts reporter for two daily newspapers, I spent many hours researching and writing about crime and legal affairs. As a reader, I’ve enjoyed true crime. As the target of a true-crime myself in 1980, however, I became more fascinated with the sub-genre of the true-crime memoir in which a participant in a true-crime shares insider details of the story without seeking pity or glorification from the reader through objectivity and self-deprecating humor. It’s a fine line. When an author manages to walk it, however, the result proves inspirational.

Gary's book list on true crime memoirs written by actual participants in the story

Gary Taylor Why did Gary love this book?

A rising star in the American book scene of the 1960s, novelist Clifford Irving suddenly claimed his greatest fame in 1972 as a criminal who almost succeeded in the most brazen literary hoax of all time by selling rights to a bogus autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. Exposed and convicted of fraud, Irving spent 16 months in federal prison and returned his $765,000 advance. But he may have had the last laugh with the 1981 publication of this raucous and hilarious inside account of the scam, removing all his skeletons from the closet and shaking them for everyone to see. A movie starring Richard Gere as Irving followed in 2006. Irving died at the age of 87 in 2017.

By Clifford Irving,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hoax as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "fascinating" memoir-and the inspiration for the movie starring Richard Gere-from the man behind the forged autobiography of Howard Hughes (Time).

Novelist Clifford Irving's no-holds-barred account of his faked autobiography of Howard Hughes-one of the greatest literary hoaxes of the twentieth century-is the ultimate caper story.

The plan was concocted in the early 1970s, when eccentric billionaire Hughes was already living as a recluse in the Bahamas. An American author, Irving pitched the scheme to his friend, fellow writer Richard Suskind: Through forged letters and fake interviews, they would recount Hughes's life "in his own words." Meanwhile, Irving's wife would…


Book cover of Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

Gary Taylor Author Of Luggage by Kroger: A True Crime Memoir

From my list on true crime memoirs written by actual participants in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my 45-year career as a newspaper and magazine journalist, I covered a wide range of events on a daily basis. As a police and courts reporter for two daily newspapers, I spent many hours researching and writing about crime and legal affairs. As a reader, I’ve enjoyed true crime. As the target of a true-crime myself in 1980, however, I became more fascinated with the sub-genre of the true-crime memoir in which a participant in a true-crime shares insider details of the story without seeking pity or glorification from the reader through objectivity and self-deprecating humor. It’s a fine line. When an author manages to walk it, however, the result proves inspirational.

Gary's book list on true crime memoirs written by actual participants in the story

Gary Taylor Why did Gary love this book?

Vietnam vet William Queen was capping a 20-year law enforcement career in 1998 when the ATF agent wangled an invitation to join the San Fernando Valley chapter of the notorious Mongols motorcycle club under the code name Billy St. John. He spent the next 28 months rising undercover to the rank of treasurer and vice president, allowing him to provide documents for the arrest and indictment of 54 members by 700 officers in four different states. Queen’s 2005 bestselling true crime memoir of his Mongols days ranges from bone-chilling to side-splitting for terror and laughs. Although Mel Gibson reportedly bought the screen rights, a movie has yet to appear.

By William Queen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Under and Alone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When veteran law-enforcement officer and lifelong motorcycle lover William Queen penetrated the San Fernando chapter of the notorious Mongols, he was at the mercy of psychopaths who sought to have him prove his fealty by any means necessary, from selling and doing drugs to arms trafficking, driving getaway cars and, in one shocking instance, stitching up the face of a Mongol 'ol' lady' after a brutal beating at the hands of her boyfriend.

Yet despite the constant criminality of the gang, Queen came to see the genuine camaraderie they shared. When his lengthy undercover work totally isolated Queen from his…


Book cover of Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake

Robert Kerbeck Author Of RUSE: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street

From my list on cons and scams.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the automobile business (my great-grandfather sold horse carriages before cars were invented!), I’ve always been fascinated by salesmen and con artists, and the very thin line that often separates the two. What is a sales pitch, for example, and what is an outright lie? Where does the truth live anymore? Media? Politics? Business? None of the above? It has never been more important to learn the truth, and never has it been harder to find it. And it’s this very issue that is dividing the world. We think the other side has been conned. They think we’ve been conned. One thing’s for sure—someone’s getting conned. And that’s why I love con books! 

Robert's book list on cons and scams

Robert Kerbeck Why did Robert love this book?

When I was writing my book, I reached out to Frank Abagnale to thank him for writing Catch Me If You Can. Indeed, I dedicated my book to him. To my great surprise, he asked to read my book and then offered an incredible blurb which the publishers put on the cover. So I must admit that any review I write of Catch Me If You Can will be biased. Plus, what can you say about someone who faked being a doctor, a lawyer, and an airplane pilot? I’ll tell you what. Mr. A is a great writer, storyteller, and a hell of a good guy too!

By Frank W. Abagnale, Stan Redding,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Catch Me If You Can as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams and Ringo Monjo, one of the most daring con men, forgers, impostors, and escape artists in history. Dubbed "The Skywayman", he was known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all 50 states in America, living a sumptuous life on the run. In his brief but notorious career, Abagnale donned a pilot's uniform and co-piloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as a member of hospital management, practised law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged…


Book cover of Till Death Us Do Part: A True Murder Mystery

Gary Taylor Author Of Luggage by Kroger: A True Crime Memoir

From my list on true crime memoirs written by actual participants in the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my 45-year career as a newspaper and magazine journalist, I covered a wide range of events on a daily basis. As a police and courts reporter for two daily newspapers, I spent many hours researching and writing about crime and legal affairs. As a reader, I’ve enjoyed true crime. As the target of a true-crime myself in 1980, however, I became more fascinated with the sub-genre of the true-crime memoir in which a participant in a true-crime shares insider details of the story without seeking pity or glorification from the reader through objectivity and self-deprecating humor. It’s a fine line. When an author manages to walk it, however, the result proves inspirational.

Gary's book list on true crime memoirs written by actual participants in the story

Gary Taylor Why did Gary love this book?

Best known for Helter Skelter--his classic 1975 true crime memoir on prosecuting the Manson family, former Los Angeles deputy DA Vincent Bugliosi wrote this book later about a complicated but lesser-known double-homicide case he tried in 1966, three years before the Manson murders occurred. As the prosecutor on these cases, Bugliosi boasted access to background details that only an insider can share, merging psychological analysis with trial strategy concerns. Echoing themes of the noir thriller Double Indemnity, this true account unveils the plot of two lovers to murder their respective spouses and explains the complex police work required to catch them.

By Vincent Bugliosi, Ken Hurwitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Till Death Us Do Part as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On December 11, 1966, a mysterious assassin shot Henry Stockton to death, set his house on fire, and left the scene without a trace. A year later, when a woman was found brutally killed, shreds of evidence suggested a connection between the two murders.

In the Palliko-Stockton trial, prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi offered a brilliant summation that synthesized for the jury the many inferences and shades of meaning in the testimony, fitting all the pieces together in a mosaic of guilt. But will the jury be persuaded?


Book cover of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

Growing up, Marlene learned about the Holocaust through stories about members of her mother’s family who died in the Holocaust. As a Lutheran growing up in Minnesota, Fern learned little about the Holocaust. As whites, neither of us learned much about the Jim Crow era in the US or the northern migration of southern African Americans during that era.

Isabelle Wilkerson grew up knowing the stories of her parents’ migration north to Washington, DC. Those stories shaped her desire to chronicle the Great Migration (1915-1970), in which millions of African Americans left the Jim Crow South for better lives in northern cities. Although many achieved success that would not have been possible, they experienced the same interpersonal and institutional racism in the North that they thought they were escaping from.

Wilkerson, a journalist, gives us the sweep of history grounded by the stories of four African Americans. 

By Isabel Wilkerson,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Warmth of Other Suns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD WINNER • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this beautifully written masterwork, the Pulitzer Prize–winnner and bestselling author of Caste chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official…


Book cover of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

Our 44th President’s first book is the one most Americans are least likely to have read. We often commented during Obama’s time in office that many who voted for him would not have had they read the book and discovered Obama’s racial activism.

Obama is the son of a white mother and an African father from Kenya. His father left the family when Obama was two years old and returned to visit only once when Obama was ten. His father died when Obama was 21. Obama’s memoir details his early life in Honolulu, where he was raised by his white grandparents, and later in Chicago, where he was a community organizer before becoming a lawyer.

The book powerfully details the racism Obama experienced as a boy and his search to understand his biracial identity by finding and connecting with his family in Kenya.

By Barack Obama,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Dreams from My Father as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ONE OF ESSENCE’S 50 MOST IMPACTFUL BLACK BOOKS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS

In this iconic memoir of his early days, Barack Obama “guides us straight to the intersection of the most serious questions of identity, class, and race” (The Washington Post Book World).
 
“Quite extraordinary.”—Toni Morrison 
 
In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father—a figure he knows more…


Book cover of The Yellow House: A Memoir

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

A memoir that haunted both of us about Broom’s love for the New Orleans house she grew up in, her family, and a neighborhood torn apart by the institutional racism embedded in banking practices, zoning laws, highway development, and other corporate and government policies and practices.

Broom’s mother purchased the house in 1961 in a then “promising” neighborhood. Over the years, the neighborhood was cut off from the city by the growth of the interstate highway, which left this largely Black area in decline from years of indifference by New Orleans elected officials. The house was eventually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The book provides a harrowing description of the destructive effects of institutional racism.

By Sarah M Broom,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Yellow House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION

'A major book that I suspect will come to be considered among the essential memoirs of this vexing decade' New York Times Book Review

In 1961, Sarah M. Broom's mother Ivory Mae bought a shotgun house in the then-promising neighborhood of New Orleans East and built her world inside of it. It was the height of the Space Race and the neighborhood was home to a major NASA plant - the postwar optimism seemed assured. Widowed, Ivory Mae remarried Sarah's father Simon Broom; their combined family would…


Book cover of Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Author Of Let's Talk Race: A Guide for White People

From my list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should.

Why we are passionate about this?

We grew up in predominantly white communities and came of age during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. As academics, we focused on issues of race in our research and teaching. Yet, despite our reading and writing about race, we still hadn’t made a connection to our own lives and how our white privilege shielded us and made us complicit in perpetuating racial inequities. We didn’t fully see our role in white supremacy until we adopted our sons. Becoming an interracial family and parenting Black sons taught us about white privilege and the myriad ways that Blacks confront racism in education, criminal justice, health care, and simply living day-to-day. 

Marlene and Fern's book list on the experiences of Black people in the US that white people don’t know but should

Marlene G. Fine and Fern L. Johnson Why did Marlene and Fern love this book?

We love this memoir that reads like a mystery story.

E. Dolores Johnson is the daughter of a Black father and white mother who fell in love in Indianapolis in the 1940s, when Indiana still enforced anti-miscegenation laws. Her mother “disappeared” so that she could flee to NY with the African American man she loved and marry there. Dolores’s birth certificate listed her as Black (the “one drop” of Black blood rule); she grew up in a Black family and lived in a Black neighborhood. Her mother never spoke of her white family.

The book resonated with us for both its graphic details about the racism Dolores and her African husband endured as highly educated corporate executives, including a cross-burning on their front lawn, and poignant description of her journey to find her white family and understand her biracial identity. Her mother’s response when Dolores says she is going to…

By E. Dolores Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Say I'm Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"With unflinching honesty, E. Dolores Johnson shares an enthralling story of identity, independence, family, and love. This timely and beautifully written memoir ends on a complicated yet hopeful note, something we need in this time of racial strife." -De'Shawn Charles Winslow, author of In West Mills

Say I'm Dead is the true story of family secrets, separation, courage, and transformation through five generations of interracial relationships. Fearful of prison time-or lynching-for violating Indiana's antimiscegenation laws in the 1940s, E. Dolores Johnson's Black father and White mother fled Indianapolis to secretly marry in Buffalo, New York.

When Johnson was born, social…


Book cover of True to the Game

Kai Storm Author Of That One Voice

From my list on fiction novels that will make you believe they’re real.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m Kai Storm, author of reality-based urban fiction and erotica, erotica blogger, YouTuber, and Podcaster. I love reading books that feel real, that make you feel, and that teach you something as they entertain you.

Kai's book list on fiction novels that will make you believe they’re real

Kai Storm Why did Kai love this book?

The main characters in this book were the first relationship goals for me as a teenager. I loved their relationship; the story flow was vividly in my mind as I read it.

I really shouldn’t have seen the movie because often, it doesn’t follow the same storyline, but I will forever love this book and love the main characters' relationship. It was and still is golden to me.

By Teri Woods,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked True to the Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's the late 1980s and Gena, a young girl from the projects, meets Quadir, a millionaire drug dealer and falls madly in love. Quadir builds a massive empire while fighting off his rivals and enemies. Gena faces the challenge of holding on to her man, her house, her car and the cash. Both of them find themselves caught up in a vicious yet seductive world and learn that success in this game is no easy win. Gena and Quadir also learn that once you're in there's no way out 'cause everyone stays in Forever...


Book cover of Some Places More Than Others

Sally Engelfried Author Of Learning to Fall

From my list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me. I wrote my first book to explore what it might be like for a girl to have a father with whom communication is, if not easy, possible. Although my own father was around when I was growing up, he was a distant figure. A mechanical engineer, he lost himself in ruminations on machines and mathematics and was made still more distant by his alcoholism. As a kid, I tried to glean from books what having a “regular” father might be like. I still haven’t figured it out, but I love seeing other authors capture the formative effects of this particular parental relationship. 

Sally's book list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships

Sally Engelfried Why did Sally love this book?

It can be difficult for kids to see their parents as real people, and that’s why I love Some Places More Than Others. When Amara finally convinces her parents she should get to go on a trip with her dad to New York City’s Harlem to meet the grandfather she’s only spoken to on the phone, she uncovers the fact that her dad and her grandfather haven’t spoken in twelve years. I love the depiction of Amara’s father as a person in his own right, someone with a history and his own problems and how, as Amara slowly unravels the mysteries of her father’s past, she begins to understand herself better too.

By Renée Watson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Some Places More Than Others as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Newbery Honor- and Coretta Scott King Author Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Renée Watson comes a heartwarming and inspiring novel for middle schoolers about finding deep roots and exploring the past, the present, and the places that make us who we are.

All Amara wants for her birthday is to visit her father's family in New York City--Harlem, to be exact. She can't wait to finally meet her Grandpa Earl and cousins in person, and to stay in the brownstone where her father grew up. Maybe this will help her understand her family--and herself--in new way.

But New…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in New York State, Harlem, and African Americans?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about New York State, Harlem, and African Americans.

New York State Explore 706 books about New York State
Harlem Explore 32 books about Harlem
African Americans Explore 726 books about African Americans