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Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (Socrates Fortlow #1)

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  2,963 Ratings  ·  195 Reviews
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1997 by W. W. Norton and Company (first published 1997)
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Oct 06, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit
So close to being a 5 star read, Mosley has scaled new heights in my estimation with this wonderful series of vignettes featuring Socartes Fortlow

Read on the plane from London to Copenhagen

It might even get upgraded to 5 stars after some more time but this took me by complete surprise after finding it for a measly 50 pence in a Colchester charity shop.

Technically these are short stories featuring the same character but the way that they put together in this volume it works as something similar t
Jan 14, 2008 Nancy rated it it was amazing
I read this book over 10 years ago and it still stands out in my mind. Socrates Fortlow is a wonderfully complex and humane character. I still remember vividly his experience trying to get a job shortly after his release from prison. Mosley writes very convincingly about the life and struggles of an ex-con and the problems of urban America. This is one of my favorite books. One of these days I'll read it again so I can write a proper review.
Mar 02, 2008 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is possibly my favorite book of all time. The character Socrates Fortlow is an incredibly intriguing character. There's so much depth, complexity and realism to him. He is a recently paroled convicted murderer living in the slums of LA trying to retain his humanity and manhood despite being constantly surrounded by violence, poverty, and humiliation. Can't say enough about this book. It was adapted (really well) to a film with Laurence Fishburne. Definitely should check that out too.
Jan 07, 2008 James rated it really liked it
Socrates Fortlow has been out of prison for eight years after having spent the previous twenty seven incarcerated for the murder of two people and rape of one of them. This book chronicles some of his experiences in Los Angeles, mainly Watts, effectively portraying the culture and the character of Socrates and his interlocutors. I was impressed with the humanity evident in the protagonist's (dare I say hero?) actions and thoughts, particularly his rationality. He has developed an understanding o ...more
Jun 09, 2010 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: l-a, book-club
An ex-con in late middle age lives each day as an opportunity for redemption. Recently released from prison after a 27-year prison sentence for rape and murder, Socrates Fortlow has a hardscrabble life in South Central L.A. where violence is part of the everyday and intimidation is currency. Yet in spite of his circumstances and barebones existence, he has an admirable focus on self-awareness. It’s hard not to like this character and you suspect he is not as evil as he believes himself to be. Mo ...more
I'm not a big fan of short story collections, but Walter Mosley's episodic look at a hard-luck Socrates trying to stay straight in the ghettos of Los Angeles has unexpected wisdom and perfect pitch for the urban environment in which these chapters are set. Socrates is a believable character, and an ex-convict more stoic than bitter. He is, if I may say so, a community activist, although he does not think of himself as such (and is all the more authentic for that lack of vanity). He knows his own ...more
Dec 16, 2016 Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cover of this book can be misleading, because it is not guns that are featured here but the strong hands of the main character, Socrates Fortlow, an ex-convict trying to piece together something of a life. Strong writing and situations show Socrates coming to know himself and his life in Watts roughly around the time of the riots following the Rodney King verdict.
Dec 10, 2009 Flying_Monkey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has to come close to being the best collection of short-stories written in English during the last twenty years.

At their best the taut writing and uncanny ability to explode the confusion and emptiness at the heart of many people's lives recalls Raymond Carver, but where Carver is content to leave his ethics enigmatic, Mosley is righteous and fierce. This is not to say that the central character, Socrates Fortlow is a judgemental moralist. Far from it. This burly ex-con with his huge rock-c
Jun 07, 2012 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is a collection of vignettes in the life of Socrates Fortnow a recently released convict from Indiana who has made his home in L.A. at about the time of the last L.A. riots/rebellion. Each chapter is a carefully draw morality play on what it means to be a black MAN in America where you are always outnumbered, always outgunned. The book is obviously cribbed together from individual short stories most if not all of which have appeared as short stories elsewhere. Where this might detract f ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Socrates Fortlow, released from prison after 27 years for murder, tries to live with honor in Watts, without giving in to his murderous rage. This is a collection of stories that originally appeared elsewhere, but interwoven with new material. The immensely strong, guilt-ridden Socrates helps rid the neighborhood of a killer, takes in a young boy, convinces a man to stay with his wife, and insists on his rights when dealing with authority like the grocery store where he applies for a job.

It’s an
Jun 10, 2010 Christopher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned was one of the favorite books thats I've read this year besides The Shining Mark. I like this book becuase it was a capturing book. Even though I read it every other day I didnt put it down until I was tired becuase it was intresting. I figured out that the main character of this book is Socrates becuase the story revolves mostly around him, and also about his life and the struggles he is facing. I likes the way the author put many themes in the book along wi ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is why I love reading. You open a book, start reading, and are whisked off to adventure. This is not a crime novel such as the author's Easy Rawlins Mysteries. Instead this book is an extraordinary character study of an uneducated black man, ex-convict Socrates Fortlow, who has spent 27 years in prison for rape and murder. Upon release from an Indiana prison he travels to Los Angeles and begins his new life in a rough section of town. Along the way, the reader is witness to his inner strugg ...more
David Gustafson
Sep 30, 2009 David Gustafson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Writing encapsulates experience and at it's best, wisdom. Men with even a modicum of violence in them (which is most people let alone most men) can benefit from being reminded of it's costs. Every blow you throw in life is like a shovel full of dirt dug from the bottom and thrown out over the top of your own personal pit of despair. Men, especially young men can learn from the burden that Mosley's protagonist bears every day of his life. What do you do when you are at the bottom of a hole? Stop ...more
Feb 20, 2008 Vangelicmonk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I can't believe I forgot to add and review this book for so long on Goodreads. This is one of the few books I have read twice. One of the books that raised my passion for reading again. It was a very interesting book, with interesting characters, an interesting story, and an interesting context. Watts from talking to friends is a rough place, but has character. Mosley represents this well.
Mark Cooper
Feb 11, 2008 Mark Cooper rated it really liked it
Shelves: mark_pre-su07
[Audio] Story of a black man released from a long stint in prison and his reflections on life and how hard it is to come back to society. Some interesting messages about personal responsibility that I didn't expect to find given the story line.
Aug 14, 2007 Breezy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Breathtaking. I read this in one afternoon, hardly wanting to put it down. The character of Socrates Fortlow came alive for me in ways very few fictional writers have been able to do in recent times.
Mar 26, 2013 Kerry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book_club
I so admired the moral compass of Socrates Fortlow! He'd be the first to admit that he's not perfect; he spends most days regretting the actions that put him in prison. His code of "right" and "wrong" may not always be the same as mine, but in his world he's a beacon of hope.
May 07, 2016 Kmalbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Audio. These stories were so "alive" and well written. Spare, and yet full of hidden meaning. I am also glad I listened to them on audio. The cadence of the reader made this book a better listen than read for me.
Dec 30, 2007 kasia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely incredible. I was totally blown away.

Edit, after re-reading: Made a huge impression on me when I read it 9 years ago. It didn't quite live all the way up to my memories of it, but it's still a terrific book.
May 15, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The best book I've read in about 3 years (since Jonathan Coe's "Rotter's Club"). Great characters, lyrical prose. I can't wait to read the follow-up.
It was hard for me to make the switch from the Easy Rawlings books to this collection. But I did it. I love this book, but I'll be honest I like Easy Rawlings better.
Emily Leader
Feb 23, 2017 Emily Leader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books-read
I am a fan of Walter Mosley, who published this book in 1998 but as much as he spoke to me in the past, I didn't hear things I now can hear in this time where the Black Lives Matter movement has made me hyper aware of privilege and stereotyping. Because Walter Mosley makes a poor ex-con named Socrates' voice so compelling that I was thinking politically, humanely and lovingly the whole way through this book. About an angry man but one who does right by and for people. Who, like his namesake, ask ...more
Kevin Tracey
Feb 24, 2017 Kevin Tracey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I don't know what to say about this short, stark story of Socrates Fortlow's quest for peace and redemption as he battles the rage that always threatens to send him back to prison except to say that you should read it.
Larry Edwards
Feb 16, 2017 Larry Edwards rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this immensely.
Jan 28, 2008 Guy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (1998), het eerste deel van een nieuwe serie, voert Mosley na Easy Rawlins een nieuw sterk hoofdpersonage ten tonele: Socrates Fortlow, een achtenvijftigejarige zwarte die zevenentwintig jaar opgesloten zat voor dubbele moord en verkrachting en nu probeert te overleven in een chaotische maatschappij die intussen afscheid heeft genomen van de zekere stabilititeit die er voor zijn opsluiting nog heerste. Fortlow is een man van principes die ondanks een enorm ...more
Jeff Scott
I really enjoyed these short stories. They center around Socrates Fortlow (named Socrates because his mother thought it would make him smart), a convicted murderer now released from prison after 27 years. He lives in Los Angeles in a poor black neighborhood. He provides guidance for those who seek it from him. It seems most people seek him out as a tough to help them, but his words are wise and violence is never an option for the neighborhood's problems.

"you stood up for yourself Darell", Socrat
Manuel Antão
Jan 18, 2013 Manuel Antão rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

I've always tried to shy away from Walter Mosley. I'm not sure why. I've always thought I wouldn't read anything worthwhile and different from the rest of the pack. This time I've decided to give it a go. I'm glad I did.

Mosley fully captures the rhythms of people's lifes in South Central LA, resulting in a haunting look at a life bounded by lust, violence, fear, and a ruthlessly unsentimental moral vision.

I was also impressed with Mosley's efforts to bring philosophy back. The book is also full
Susan Jones
Feb 15, 2016 Susan Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition Review
In this cycle of 14 bittersweet stories, Walter Mosley breaks out of the genre--if not the setting--of his bestselling Easy Rawlins detective novels. Only eight years after serving out a prison sentence for murder, Socrates Fortlow lives in a tiny, two-room Watts apartment, where he cooks on a hot plate, scavenges for bottles, drinks, and wrestles with his demons. Struggling to control a seemingly boundless rage--as well as the power of his massive "rock-breaking" hands--Socrate
Oct 23, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good wild west title, and I suppose Watts in LA, Mosley's stomping grounds, is western, lawless and desperate enough. His hero in this story collection seems to intend a sort of frontier justice, and as an ex-con emerging from nearly 30 years in a federal pen for a double homicide sentence, he certainly is an outlaw, outcast figure. His given name, Socrates, stresses his philosophical inclinations, in ironic spite of his social status and lack of education or polish, but his friends' nickname fo ...more
Susan Oleksiw
Sep 27, 2016 Susan Oleksiw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
In a series of linked short stories Walter Mosley gives us the life of Socrates Fortlow, released from prison after serving 27 years for rape and murder. He's been living in Watts now for eight years, trying to construct a life bound by poverty, rage, and regret. Everything we need to know about Socrates appears in the first story, "Crimson Shadow," in which he catches a young boy who has stolen and killed his rooster. Socrates makes the boy, Darryl, learn to pluck and cook the bird, and then le ...more
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Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more
More about Walter Mosley...

Other Books in the Series

Socrates Fortlow (3 books)
  • Walkin' the Dog
  • The Right Mistake: The Further Philosophical Investigations of Socrates Fortlow

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