10 books like Manchild in the Promised Land

By Claude Brown,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Manchild in the Promised Land. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Hoax

By Clifford Irving,

Book cover of The Hoax: A Memoir

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.

The Hoax

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…

Under and Alone

By William Queen,

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

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.

Under and Alone

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…


Catch Me If You Can

By Frank W. Abagnale, Stan Redding,

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

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!

Catch Me If You Can

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…

Till Death Us Do Part

By Vincent Bugliosi, Ken Hurwitz,

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

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.

Till Death Us Do Part

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?


Some Places More Than Others

By Renée Watson,

Book cover of Some Places More Than Others

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.

Some Places More Than Others

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…

Down These Mean Streets

By Piri Thomas,

Book cover of Down These Mean Streets

Thomas’s memoir is a seminal text of Nuyorican Literature (a sub-genre of Diasporican Literature) and the Latinx canon. It also belongs to the urban literature genre that emerged in the 1960s. His, however, was the first Latinx version of a narrative that depicts, some would say sensationalizes and exploits, the gritty, raw life of the inner city. As such, it had a tremendous impact on developing Latinx writers who had few role models at the time. His work, along with others of that genre, still holds influence stylistically and thematically with some Latinx authors. Written in the traditional Augustinian autobiographical model, Mean Streets tracks Piri’s fall into crime and drugs and final transformation and redemption. More significantly, this memoir introduces the issue of Latinx black identity and the complication of it within the American black-white paradigm. 

Down These Mean Streets

By Piri Thomas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Down These Mean Streets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A modern classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence—and a lyrical memoir of coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. 

"A report from the guts and heart of a submerged population group ... It claims our attention and emotional response." —The New York Times Book Review

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating memoir. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood. Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of…

Harlem Shuffle

By Colson Whitehead,

Book cover of Harlem Shuffle

Colson Whitehead takes us into the bowels of 1960s Harlem, where slick operators, ruthless conmen, and aspiring citizens rub shoulders. I liked Ray Carney as soon as I met him and felt bad that life kept tossing him curveballs. Like his cousin Freddie, who dragged him into a life of crime and high anxiety. The book is funny, poignant, fast-paced, and utterly absorbing. And the prose, like all of Whitehead’s writing, dazzles and delights.

Harlem Shuffle

By Colson Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, this gloriously entertaining novel is  “fast-paced, keen-eyed and very funny ... about race, power and the history of Harlem all disguised as a thrill-ride crime novel" (San Francisco Chronicle).

"Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked..." To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents…

Black Gotham

By Carla L. Peterson,

Book cover of Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City

Part history, part memoir, part detective story, the capacious, impeccably researched Black Gotham depicts an author’s engagement with her own ancestry, as she traces her family’s achievements in nineteenth-century New York City. Starting with the name and a family story about one great-grandfather, Peterson weaves a vibrant tapestry that details the lives of a community of elite Black New Yorkers who attended schools, started businesses, generated national conventions, and lived cosmopolitan lives. In addition to chronicling the lives of these accomplished ancestors, Peterson offers a compelling meditation on the determination and creativity required to excavate the lives of Black Americans whom traditional historians had long neglected.

Black Gotham

By Carla L. Peterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking history of elite black New Yorkers in the nineteenth century, seen through the lens of the author's ancestors

Part detective tale, part social and cultural narrative, Black Gotham is Carla Peterson's riveting account of her quest to reconstruct the lives of her nineteenth-century ancestors. As she shares their stories and those of their friends, neighbors, and business associates, she illuminates the greater history of African-American elites in New York City.

Black Gotham challenges many of the accepted "truths" about African-American history, including the assumption that the phrase "nineteenth-century black Americans" means enslaved people, that "New York state before…


Stories of Freedom in Black New York

By Shane White,

Book cover of Stories of Freedom in Black New York

This beautifully written history focuses on another nineteenth-century Black New Yorker who defies expectations and deserves our attention. Like Educated for Freedom and Black Gotham, White’s story places us in historical moments surrounding the 1827 law ending slavery in New York State. White puts us on the vibrant, noisy, streets of the city, inviting us to see both hope and defiance in how Black people dressed, how they walked down the street, and what they did at the theater. At the center of this history emerges James Hewlett, a man whose life is worthy of at least one feature film, but has remained largely unknown outside of specialists in the field. Hewlett was a Black Shakespearean actor who insisted on his right to interpret Shakespeare for himself and for the community, even as white tastemakers sought to keep the bard’s words to themselves.

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

By Shane White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stories of Freedom in Black New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stories of Freedom in Black New York recreates the experience of black New Yorkers as they moved from slavery to freedom. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, New York City's black community strove to realize what freedom meant, to find a new sense of itself, and, in the process, created a vibrant urban culture. Through exhaustive research, Shane White imaginatively recovers the raucous world of the street, the elegance of the city's African American balls, and the grubbiness of the Police Office. It allows us to observe the style of black men and women, to watch their public…


The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

By Karina Yan Glaser,

Book cover of The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

There are so many nice things we, as humans, can do for others. Especially people we know! It simply takes a little time and effort. In The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden, Oliver and his siblings decide to grow a garden in an abandoned plot of land in Harlem, something his elderly neighbor “has been hinting at for years”. Before long, it’s not just the Vanderbeekers who are helping with the garden. And I dare you not to smile when the whole neighborhood sees it bloom. 

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden

By Karina Yan Glaser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.

In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time.

5 book lists we think you will like!

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