The Spook Who Sat by the Door
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The Spook Who Sat by the Door (African American Life)

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  504 ratings  ·  47 reviews
This book is both a satire of the civil rights problems in the United States in the late 60s and a serious attempt to focuses on the issue of black militancy.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 16th 2014 by Lushena Books (first published March 1969)
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Grady McCallie
The Spook Who Sat by the Door tells the story of Dan Freeman, an intelligent and 'naturally athletic' man from the ghetto who becomes the first black CIA agent, then resigns and returns home to Chicago to work with what would now be called 'at risk' youth. To his white bosses and funders, he appears to be 'tame' and eager to please; meanwhile, he is actually training street gangs to become a revolutionary insurgency, which launches during race riots near the end of the book. As a middle class wh...more
Saw the movie years ago; this book does not disappoint. I'm halfway through + am thinking about how interesting it is in conversation with 'Django Unchained,' the current political climate, and the bad ass protagonist cannon. Can't wait to talk to someone about this book. Can't wait to start giving the book to folks as gifts, Can't wait to finish it.
Crystal Belle
the revolution will not be televised.
Sep 16, 2008 Miss rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Miss by: neighbor's friends
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Damn, but this was good and hell of enjoyable. It moves fast, it's got that pulp feel where you always know the color of the whiskey label and the size of the man's lapels. It made me think of Gil Scott Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and this is a tale of revolution pure and simple, taking everything positive in the biggest baddest gangs and turning them into a force for a racist government to reckon with. For just a taste of the prose
Drop those names: doctors I have known, lawyer
At first, I thought "Spook" was going to be a broad satire of racism in America in the 60's, using caricatures as characters. But then I realized it's only a broad satire for its enemies: the white liberal do-gooders, bourgeoisie black fakers and political hacks who remain cartoons throughout. The rest is far-fetched blue prints for Armageddon.

The protagonist is a familiar character: the cold, calculating, superiority-driven mastermind who's an expert in martial arts, full of sexual virility, an...more
Impotent black fantasy of a doomsday that simply cannot happen. Don't get me wrong; I love the book. I love its pacing, its sense of timing, of language. I identify with the sense of determination, with its attempt to find an answer and with its single-minded protagonist. I'm simply angry because this stands out, along with Chester Himes' Plan B, as a story of action to meet headlong a challenge and condition, in the midst of a reading public too apathetic to give a shit or too comfy in their co...more
Sep 16, 2008 Daniel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: revolutionaries with hard-ons for armed struggle
A blistering read. A black revolutionary joins the CIA and learns all about revolutions overseas, then quits and uses his knowledge to organize a street gang into a revolutionary cadre. When the Detroit ghetto rises up, the cadre attacks the National Guard, sends out organizers to other major cities to organize cadre there, and the Black revolution breaks out across the United States. Tragically, it is not a feminist book.
Gina Rheault
A must read just because its the angry black (not light skinned Negro trying to pass, but black) man fantasy -- fooling everyone into thinking you're a good reliable Uncle Tom, and then starting a revolution. Yeah! If you've ever been a have not, excluded, underestimated, dismissed because of your looks, or your race, or your nationality, or your class you'll love this book. Aside from the angry man hero, the characters are not profound or memorable, and the gang scenes in Chicago are rather dat...more
This book was recommended to me years ago but I decided recently that I would read it. I was not disappointed. I won't give a long drawn out review but I will say, those that are interested in the well being and seeing 'black' people progress as a whole will not be disappointed. Just imagine if every 'black' person read this book and took it to heart?
Pretty awesome book. Better than I thought it would be. Again I have to read this again for class so will save my review until then. Can't wait to see the movie!
Walter O'Bryant
This is one of my favorite books. I read it at an impressionable age and in many ways tried to emulate the protagonist. Now I'm trying to emulate the author!
Fun read. Written in the 60s about an African-American guy who goes to work for the CIA and then uses what he learned.
Sam Greenlee's scope is amazing. I am still trying to figure out how he got this published in the 60's.
Back in the day, this book was a revelation to me.. it made me proud to be a black women.
How is it possible that I did t read this book in the late 60s?
Lesia Quamina
Love this book. It is a must read.
LOVE IT! A must read!
Nandi Crawford
Probably one of the best books I have read in so long. from start to finish it was the bomb, and what gets me is that Urban Fiction is hailed as this and that, but I am positive that if they got a hold of THIS book, they'd change their minds quick on what is good or not. But back to the book. this book was published in 1969 by a brother who had similar experiences. Somehow, the book was made into a movie, which I also own and I had watched first before reading the book. anyhow, you have a congre...more
Dave B.
This book was exceptional because of the underlying humanity detailed by the main character, Freeman. The author paints a very real dividing line between the desire to be accepted in the social norms of America and the desire to embrace one's own cultural and racial background. This particular story is about an African American man that seeks to get into the system and learn America's political and military points of view in order to turn that against the status quo. This story plays on the fear...more
I can understand the anger. There have been (smaller) riots since this book was written. And the racial issues have improved a little since then. How much because of fear of African American violence? How much because of more middle class African Americans? If there were really the kind of "revolution" planned in this book, and if it were actually successful, would there be the same kind of challenges afterward to try to set things up so there is benefit to the revolutionaries or would there jus...more
James Hall
The film was banded from distribution by the FBI and later the film was hidden under another name in the achieves. Why? Out of all the Blaxploitation films of the 70s it was the only one with a black nationalist theme, displaying black armed militants practicing "By any means necessary". Discover what caused the U.S. government to fear this film, this book.
On Theme: I kept thinking of Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down." I read that one right after the start of the second Iraq War; this one in the midst of the Middle Eastern Revolutions. This is a book about the inevitability of resistance to oppression, published during the heart of the non-violent civil rights and militant black power movements, but pertinent even today.

On Everything Else: The voice of the book, the free-flowing dialogue and description, and the unassuming attention to a real world u...more
Spencer Abbott
Interesting socio-political thriller that falls somewhere between the hijinks of Hogan's Heroes and the no-nonsense potboiler espionage theatrics of vintage James Bond. A bit dated, but still teeming with nickel-slick flashback cool. Not at all what I expected from the dust-jacket blurb, but a page-turner for sure. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised that somebody had the cajones to publish it back in 1969. Also a bit surprised that the author only wrote one other novel after this and then went AWOL o...more
I saw this book on the young adult assignment shelf at the library the other day and remembered reading it a couple of years ago. My former boss recommended it to me. This is a really interesting and engaging story of an African-American social worker who is trained by the CIA and then uses the skills to turn against them and start an uprising of inner city African-Americans. I love the premise and wish that such radical social change could occur today. I hope this book endures as a classic and...more
Serious page turner finished in a day!
Eric Emma
Great premise. A really interesting main character and the satire is so on point in the first 50 or so pages, however, it reads more like a treatment than an actual flesh out novel. Worth a read since it's quick and some of the ideas are very cool. Also a nice book to follow-up Malcolm X's autobiography. However, most of the characters are underdeveloped and the end feels so anticlimatic and tacked on after the build up of the entire book.
Jul 07, 2011 Leslie marked it as to-read
Interesting book and story. But like some other male black writers of this time, I felt like it was too much message, not enough story. I never felt part of the "narrative dream" and never really cared about what was happening. It's hard to write about what Greenlee does, so I give him props. This just isn't my kind of the book. I liken it to The Man Who Cried I Am, so if you like that, you'll like this.
Definitely an important read, especially considering the era in which it was written. The concepts are critical to understanding American history, but the book itself was difficult (i.e., boring) for me to read. Might be the only case where the film is better than the book!
This is a book you probably shouldn't read. So what are you waiting for, dig? Although the language alone will keep it from the mainstream...this is an IB book all the way...and the baptism scene at the end of chapter 16 is worthy of any commentary.
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African-American ...: The Spook Who Sat by the Door 20 11 Jun 14, 2014 09:23AM  
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Elder Sam Greenlee is an African American writer of novels, screeplays, stage plays, and poems. He has been a social activist since the age of 15.

His first well known and most controversal novel was The Spook Who Sat by the Door published in 1968. He also co-wrote the screeplay adaption of the novel. The film was released in 1973. In 1990 Greenlee was the Illinois poet laureate.
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