Read The Man Who Cried I Am by John A. Williams Online


Generally recognized as one of the most important novels of the tumultuous 1960s, The Man Who Cried I Am vividly evokes the harsh era of segregation that presaged the expatriation of African-American intellectuals. Through the eyes of journalist Max Reddick, and with penetrating fictional portraits of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, among other historical figures, John AGenerally recognized as one of the most important novels of the tumultuous 1960s, The Man Who Cried I Am vividly evokes the harsh era of segregation that presaged the expatriation of African-American intellectuals. Through the eyes of journalist Max Reddick, and with penetrating fictional portraits of Richard Wright and James Baldwin, among other historical figures, John A Williams reveals the hope, courage, and bitter disappointment of the civil-rights era. Infused with powerful artistry, searing anger, as well as insight, humanity, and vision, The Man Who Cried I Am is a classic of postwar American literature....

Title : The Man Who Cried I Am
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780715633274
Format Type : Audio Book
Number of Pages : 361 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Man Who Cried I Am Reviews

  • Robert Wechsler
    2019-04-17 18:16

    This should be much more of an African-American classic than it is. I’d never even heard of it. The writing is excellent, simple but always appropriate, never pat. Although it is a novel about a novelist, and his relationship with another novelist, it never feels overly literary or self-referential. Except for the end, with the uncovering of a huge international conspiracy, it almost never strikes a wrong note. It’s a novel I could definitely come back to. It’s too bad that, it appears, Williams never duplicated the quality of this novel.

  • El
    2019-03-20 02:17

    Max Reddick is a journalist in the sixties, trying to overcome racial stereotypes as well as personal (and physical) obstacles to become a respected writer. Beginning in Amsterdam the story moves location and time throughout the story, from New York to Leiden to Amsterdam to Africa. His relationships with other black intellectuals and expatriates are based on real characters of history (Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Richard Wright), and his sexual relationships with women (both black and white) are discussed openly and honestly in regards to how Max is treated by his peers. Williams here covers the Civil Rights Movement, Marxism, race, cancer, the Cubans, the Russians, etc. as Max details his experiences throughout, therefore revealing his identity as a human.I think it's unfair to compare this to James Baldwin, another black writer whom I find absolutely spectacular; this is the first Williams I have read and I understand it to be the one that made readers first take real notice of Williams - there are similarities between Baldwin and Williams, but Williams actually takes it just a step further than Baldwin would. There is even more history and animosity, Williams is even more directly and painfully honest. For that reason, for the way Williams seemed to put his entire body into writing this book, I believe I have found one of the most powerful books.

  • Christy
    2019-04-02 18:58

    I had never even heard of John A. Williams' The Man Who Cried I Am before I began putting together my reading lists for my comps and I have no idea why. It's an amazing novel and one that should have more recognition. The novel is cinematic in its scope and in its easy fades from one time period, one setting, one mindset to another. The framing narrative follows Max Reddick, an African American novelist and journalist, on one final trip to Amsterdam. He is dying of cancer and makes this last trip to see his estranged wife once more and see his friend Harry's mistress, for she has something important to give him from Harry, who has recently died. On his trip to Amsterdam, he reflects upon who has been and who he has become. His memories take the reader from the 1940s to the present of 1964, as Max's life includes literary parties, newspaper reporting, affair after affair after affair, working with the president [modelled on John F. Kennedy], working in Africa, and living in Paris and Amsterdam with other African American expatriates.The novel takes on the literary world and its treatment of minority authors (tokenism), relations within minority groups (jealousy), interracial relationships (whether merely sexual or long-term, committed relationships), the place of minorities in politics and the workplace, the chaotic and confusing events of the 1960s, illness and death. Williams provides fictionalized representations of Richard Wright, James Baldwin, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, thus situating his novel in a very real context while also allowing himself leeway to make larger statements about these figures and their import without being tied to mere facts. Much of the novel is a realistic portrayal of the culture in which Max's life takes place, from the political to the personal, from the business world to the sexual encounters that occur behind the scenes. This culture becomes more and more central to the story as the novel develops. At first it is mostly backdrop, an element of Max's personal life and not much more, but as the novel builds to a fantastic and utterly believable (and thus completely terrifying) conclusion, the political and social culture comes to the forefront and forces Max to make hard choices about who he is and who he wants to be at the end of his life.Williams both argues for the necessity of force or at least a show of force, taking a position like Malcolm X's in saying that the oppressed should be willing to create change "by any means necessary," as he simultaneously illustrates the dangers of such an approach and the naiveté of those who believe that uniting black people behind such a banner would be easy or that it would effect any real change without first destroying the population. For Max and other leaders, to speak up is to endanger the lives of every African American in the U.S.; to say nothing, however, does no different. The question is no more and no less, in this case, than how one will choose to die: quickly and violently or slowly and painfully. By showing this paradox surrounding the race issue in mid-20th century America, Williams shows just how complex the issue of whether to use violent and nonviolent techniques of resistance is. It is not a question of violence or nonviolence; it is a question of power. As Bernard Zutkin, a Jewish editor, says to Max, "We survived by knowing exactly where power seemed to be every second of the day. If you're black you know that every white man thinks he has power over you and ergo, he has, until you kick his tail for him" (316). Individual survival is no longer an option for Max or Minister Q or any number of other black people, but their individual actions and sacrifices may make a broader survival possible. That is the only hope that Williams can leave us with at the end of this novel and even that is tenuous.

  • Dave
    2019-04-02 01:25

    This one disturbed me, and I think that's the point. Not disturbed in a psychological way. Williams just keeps me always on my guard. At first, I worried about the constant fluxuations in tone, time, and scope. But in the end, I'm fascinated with how perfectly these shifts match the growth and struggles of Max Reddick. The ending is still bothering me; mostly because I'm still trying to force it into a clean, traditional narrative, and it won't fit. Provocative. I know that's a bit cliche, but I never use that word to describe books. Until now, of course. I'll think on it...

  • Banderson
    2019-03-31 01:25

    I've read this so many times I can't put the date above. It is fascinating how the author weaves the current events of his time with the lives of his writing contemporaries, like Richard Wright and Baldwin. He draws on clearly autobiographical experiences as a young black writer in the '40s, 50's and 60's, but so much of the feeling is like it happened yesterday.

  • Donna Davis
    2019-03-25 22:15

    The Man Who Cried I Am was originally published during the turmoil of the late 1960’s, in the throes of the Civil Rights and antiwar movements, and following the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Bobby, Martin Luther King Junior, and Malcolm X. Now we find ourselves in the midst of a long-overdue second civil rights movement, and this title is published again. We can read it digitally thanks to Open Road Integrated Media. I was invited to read it by them and the fine people at Net Galley. I read it free in exchange for an honest review. It is available for purchase now.The story is a fictionalized account of the life of writer Richard Wright, one of the giants within African-American literature. I am ashamed to say that although I did pick up a copy of both Native Son and Black Boy, his two most famous books, they were still perched on my to-read pile when this invitation rolled in. I found myself perusing this meaty material without knowing anything about Wright himself, apart from his legendary stature and his occupation. I wanted to be able to give my readers a strong critical analysis of this novel, but I have really struggled with it. I found myself having to do a Wiki search in order to figure out whether Max Reddick or Harry Ames was supposed to be Wright. It’s embarrassing. I will read it over again and try to publish something more useful than this review in the future, but I promised to publish my thoughts on the book no later than today—a week following its release—and so I’m going to tell you what I can.As literary fiction, it’s strong. Ames, who is Wright, as it turns out, and Reddick, who is James Baldwin fictionalized, go on an Odyssey all their own, leaving the USA and its myriad racial issues behind for Europe. A number of other historical luminaries are recognizable in its pages by different names, in addition to those called by their real names, such as Dewy and Truman, and philosopher Camus. The time period spans from post-World War II to the Civil Rights movement.So many social issues are embraced here that I found myself making far more notes and highlighting more quotes than I can use. The debate unfolds as to how the Communist Party USA treats artists, as opposed to workers, and even touches briefly on the assassination of Trotsky at the hands of a Stalinist agent. Discrimination against African-American (then referred to as Negro) soldiers in the Buffaloes is part of Reddick’s inner narrative. Black Pride had not yet had its day, and Black men often coveted relationships with Caucasian women, partly (as Malcolm X pointed out) from self-hatred, partly as a social status symbol, and occasionally for the practical material benefits of marrying into, or becoming aligned with, a woman that had access to money. But this was also a double-edged sword, because the women’s movement hadn’t occurred yet either, and women were supposed to stay home and have babies while their men went off to work. The whole thing is very complicated.In this time prior to the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortion legal for American women, an unwanted pregnancy is dispatched by a doctor who is supposed to be quite good and risk free, but of course, the procedure is not legal, and there are no emergency facilities available. One of the characters loses the woman he loves when she bleeds to death after a back-alley abortion. This is not intended to be the primary focus of the book, but it’s huge to me, and so it stayed with me.Be aware that there are scores of ugly racist terms, used for the purpose of highlighting racism, as well as sexist terms and references to gay men as the f-word. All references are either there because of the time period in which the story is set or for the purpose of defining the struggle of the Black man in America, but readers have a right to know and to brace themselves. There are descriptions of the atrocities visited upon European Jews during the war, as well as references to their struggle in the USA, primarily New York City; again, there are some ugly terms used.Should you read this title? Not at the beach. This excellent novel is for the serious student of African-American history and for the history student focused on social justice. It’s more than worth your while, and I will re-read it myself after I have read Wright’s work. Just understand that there are many, many historical references that will make you reach for Google. The story was written during a time when the average reader had most of these things—from clothing styles such as zoot suits and pegged pants, to offhand references to the cigarette jingles that once punctuated our radio and television broadcasts as frequently as Coke and Pepsi do now, to slang terms whose use is either gone or worse, changed to mean something else. For example, if someone is high, they haven’t been using street drugs; they are drunk. None of these things is explained to the reader. We must have them stored in our memories; search for the meanings of unfamiliar references; or attempt to understand the text without knowing them.I consider this literature to be accessible only to those that read at college level.Highly recommended for those that take African-American literature and history seriously, and whose reading ability is well above average.

  • Janne
    2019-04-15 19:02

    I don't know how I had missed this book when it first came out: it is a wonderful description of the experience of a black man, an intelligent, ambitious black man trying to live his life in the US of the 50s and 60s. Williams is able to make me, an aging white female from Brazil, feel the angst and the rage of the narrator. Things were changing in this country, but not fast enough for the ones living at the time. The characters portrayed in the book supposedly are based on real life black writers and musicians, and apparently even Malcolm X makes an appearance, although I couldn't really recognize him. Marvelously written, compelling book.

  • Leslie
    2019-04-07 22:08

    This is one of those books you should read. I had a hard time with it. I felt some scenes were underdeveloped, the shifts in time (especially early on) made me want to give up several times, and there were preachy passages. But, if you want to know African American lit, this is a formative book in the cannon after WWII. So, it was worth reading, but it took me forever. I wouldn't say that I liked it, but I know a lot of people who do. Maybe this is one of those books you either love or hate.

  • Evan
    2019-04-02 00:04

    A fantastic novel that demands close attention. Complex characters, a plot that could be considered epic (or at least cinematic). A great comment on America, on writing, and on race. Williams has a number of good novels that are sadly overlooked. (He's also got a couple of stinkers, but who doesn't?) Check out !Click Song for more on black writers and the struggle to publish; This is My Country Too! for a fantastic look at american in the 60s; and Sissie, for a novel about family dynamics that plays with POV and voice.

  • M.
    2019-04-01 21:23

    This is heartbreaking and brilliant in its brutal honesty. Not a feel-good novel but a must-read nonetheless.

  • Christine
    2019-04-07 19:00

    I was very engaged in the main storyline of this book about a male author suffering painful colon cancer who was visiting his former wife and other acquaintances in Europe following the death of a fellow writer and friend. His trip was laced with flashbacks and memories while he was resting, dozing, sleeping, usually after taking pain medication (morphine). Through these stories, I learned about his history, and the impetus for this trip. Another plot involved a white supremacist conspiracy that ended up killing him. Conspiracies don't interest me, BUT reading this one as "white supremacy" with or without an actual organized motivation did add to the book. This novel deals with the struggle and dreams of black American men moving through the US's systemic racism. It is heartbreaking to see the way they work to engage and improve the system while being constantly beat down - even, especially when they achieve some level of success. Like many, I am surprised that I didn't hear more buzz about this book when discussing classic or important black American literature. It belongs in that conversation. The writing is good and easy to read, and this book shows racism for its system, not its individual acts. It's an important and challenging opportunity for those willing to face it.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-01 20:00

    3.5 stars, though I'm still digesting it. I think it's obviously an important novel, and is a no-holds-barred account of what it was like to be a black man and writer from the 40s-60s. There's a lot of anger (which is understandable), and the attitudes toward women were not super progressive, which I guess is also in keeping with the times. Ultimately, even though it was a bit of a bummer to get through, and slow in some parts, I'm glad I read it.

  • Dean Landsman
    2019-04-17 01:08

    This book, first published n 1967, tells of classified government plans for dealing with racial unrest. A remarkable story, dealt with by the brilliant author John A. Williams as a work of fiction, foreshadows much of the "contingency" planning of the government to deal with issues as they might arise. Now, as we see the doings of various intelligence agencies snooping, prying, eavesdropping, and gathering intel of all sorts, contingency plans and government planning for numerous "what if" scenarios becomes an even more hair-raising concept.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-12 23:15

    Everyone needs to read John A. Williams, a writer I'm sad to have only discovered this month. There's so much to talk about here and the issues of race addressed in the novel, particularly within publishing and literature are ones we're still struggling with today.

  • Marley KD
    2019-04-15 20:22

    How on earth did I not know about this book? Powerful, important, a must read.

  • Roki
    2019-03-23 20:15

    Good picture of an african american man's experience in mid-20th century.

  • Ona
    2019-04-08 02:10

    Hard not to compare him to James Baldwin...and this book is a great complement to those of the Master.

  • Shari
    2019-03-22 23:01

    A beautiful book