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Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  898 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead is Frank Meeink’s raw telling of his descent into America’s Nazi underground and his ultimate triumph over drugs and hatred. Frank’s violent childhood in South Philadelphia primed him to hate, while addiction made him easy prey for a small group of skinhead gang recruiters. By 16 he had become one of the most notorious skinhead gang l ...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published March 16th 2010 by Hawthorne Books
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Skinhead... The Life I Chose by Spike PittSkinhead by Nick NightSpirit of '69 by George MarshallSkins & Punks by Gavin WatsonSkins by Gavin Watson
17th out of 67 books — 40 voters
Conversations With Myself by Nelson MandelaThe Meaning of Matthew by Judy ShepardShock of Gray by Ted C. FishmanWalden & Civil Disobedience by Henry David ThoreauEnrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario
AmeriCorps and the Medically Underserved in Utah
20th out of 20 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dc Burney
May 13, 2010 Dc Burney rated it it was amazing
By Frank Meeink

I’ve recently read Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead, by Frank Meeink. Frank is born out of a pretty lowlife family and never faced his life as it was. He was always high or taking his hate out on other people as a skinhead. He always tried to be better, but only ever replaced a bad situation with a worse or equally bad one.
Frank was immediately born into a bad situation. Living in a fairly bad neighborhood, with his parents both drug a
Aug 18, 2010 Tyson rated it liked it
It was hard to decide whether this book deserves 3 or 4 stars. In the end I gave it 4 because I couldn't put it down. It's raw and horrifying in some instances, but entertaining. If you've seen American History X, some of the skinhead / prison / life redemption experiences will not feel particularly unique. But this is a true story. And it's written in an entertaining way from the perspective of Frank Meeink - a legit ex skinhead from South Philadelphia. It's not just about racism and neo nazis, ...more
May 30, 2011 Joe rated it really liked it
This is a pretty fantastic autobiography of Frank Meeink, who was one of the most racist, and notoriously violent people involved with Aryan Nations and other hate organizations on the east coast between 1980-2000. It has become a pretty popular read due to the fact that Mr. Meeink is completely forthcoming with all of the brutal crimes he has committed, and describes his drug use as vividly as his memory allows him. Also, he doesn't write with a tone suggesting that he's using it as an apology ...more
Oct 24, 2010 stormhawk rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I found out about this book thanks to Michael Smerconish. I caught the tail-end of an interview on his show earlier this week and downloaded the book through the magic of Kindle while I walked across the parking lot into my office.

One thing I worry about with this book ... I think I'm hearing the voice of his co-writer rather than Frank, himself. Despite the book being peppered with references to cheesesteaks and the well-known Philly-pronoun, "Youse," Jody Roy's Ph.D. is painted across each pag
Dec 07, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it
First the positive: This book gives a fair bit of insight into the sad circumstances that foster and cultivate hatred in recent times (and, actually, across all time, as those circumstances are not at all limited to recent decades). This book also provides hope, showing how the right exposure to the right kind of guidance, friendship, responsibility, or love can overcome that hatred (and, also teaches a huge lesson, showing how the actions of even one person—the Jewish employer, in this case—can ...more
Nona Carrasco
Mar 27, 2011 Nona Carrasco rated it it was amazing
Extremely hard read, especially if you have any history that is touched on within the pages of this book. When I began reading it I could only make it through a few pages at a time then I'd put it down, picking it up days or weeks later.
However to set the mind on having such courage to read something that took courage to have written I felt was the least I could do...

The simple fact was that I met him quite randomly through friends while he was here in Portland, and running into him the next da
This is a book where the star rating doesn't matter much.
It could be a 5 star book in places, some it could be a 4 and some a 3.
It's not inconsistent. In fact, it's anything but. The style walks a straight line, the voice never feels dishonest. It's very "just the facts." It doesn't ever feel dry or emotionless though.
See, I am having a hard time with this book.
Let's start here.
Frank Meeink had a rough childhood. His parents had him young, and after they split his father signed him away (sort of
May 05, 2010 Meghan rated it really liked it
Frank Meeink and Jody M. Roy tell of Meeink’s story childhood spent raised by alcoholics and drug addicts on the low-end of the working class spectrum in Philadelphia. Despite loving extended family, no one protects Meeink from savage beatings from his stepfather, the emotional abuse and indifference from both his mother and father, and the constant fear he lives in as he bounces around low-performing, dangerous elementary and middle schools. An all too brief childhood filled with severe violenc ...more
Oct 18, 2013 Maureen rated it it was amazing
If goodreads had 4.5 stars I would give that. Very shocking and disturbing but a great read where I'd grab the book any free moment I had. It's almost several stories..Frank's extremely terrible childhood, even worse teenage years which led to neo-nazi years and later severe drug addiction. There wasn't one specific event that led Frank to become a hateful person nor a specific event that made him realize how stupid and nonsensical racisim is. Very well written and informative book! (again thoug ...more
Jackie Bouchard
Aug 28, 2010 Jackie Bouchard rated it liked it
I heard this guy talking about his life on NPR so was interested to read his story. It's sometimes pretty raw and tough to read, but it helps you understand how some people can become part of a hate-group, and, better still, shows that there's hope for them to eventually realize their stupidity and change their ways. It's a frustrating story at times because of his addiction issues - you just want to shake him, as I'm sure his love ones also wanted to. Overall, it's a story of hope and a pretty ...more
Apr 13, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
While many other reviewers here seem to be compelled by the raw detail of such a controversial narrative, I’m much more inclined to base my opinion of this book on it’s value as an object of cultural discussion rather than of individual experience. It’s publication has created a unique space in which to discuss and give voice to the socio-economic, familial, and cultural conditions which lead people, like Frank Meeink, to participate and embrace such horrifying ideologies and act upon them. Carv ...more
Alan Holley
Apr 12, 2015 Alan Holley rated it really liked it
Rarely has a story of such utter hatred and horrifying violence been told with such touching sincerity. Frank's transformation from a neglected and abused teen, to a low-level street thug, to a feared and revered skinhead legacy, and finally to a struggling addict and ex-con preaching the ways of love is not just compelling, it's absorbing. Frank tells his life story with the understanding that, if this book is truly meant to inspire, then he can't hold anything back, and he doesn't. The graphic ...more
Sep 18, 2013 Nique rated it really liked it
I've been wanting to read this book for years. I was really curious about what drives people to hate people they've never even met. This book gave me insight into that. Sometimes, it's simply a matter of being accepted by a group when everyone else around you is ignoring your existence. It's not excusing the things he did, but it helps me understand. There were times in the book that I wanted to slap him for making bad decisions, but I found the book very hard to put down.
Aug 19, 2010 Damon added it
One of the worst books I've had to read in sometime. Spoiler Alert. What kinda dude can have 3 kids and not have to pay child support but can get strungout on junk while touring the country speaking at schools and have a hot rich wife? This Guy! Sounds awesome....right? not so much.
Darcy Poquette
Oct 16, 2010 Darcy Poquette rated it really liked it
Disturbing so far. I'm wondering how he's going to begin his recovery. He's coming to speak to our students this month.
Branna Elenz
Jul 12, 2014 Branna Elenz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: moving, true-story
I greatly enjoyed this book! As I am going into the sociology and psychology field this was a very interesting and in depth read. I recently did an internship at a hospital out-patient psych facility in south Chicago. This is where I just began to get a taste of what addiction does to a person. Reading this book so soon after my short experience really gave me an idea of the full life story of someone in the situation letting it ALL out. I will always keep this book, even if I never read it cove ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Margaret rated it really liked it
What I liked about this memoir is that it wasn't written by Meeink. I know, I know. It's a strange thing to say that I like a book because it wasn't written by the focus of the story, but that is what makes this book different. Meeink told his story to several people over the years, but one of the only ones who got the full picture, in all its detail, was Jody M. Roy. She listened to Meeink, asked questions, and in the end, they both came up with the manuscript. You don't sense her filtering his ...more
Jul 24, 2014 Zana rated it liked it
Shelves: social-work
The head of my social work internship (at an addiction clinic) recommended this book to me. Wow. It is super-disturbing. Very compelling, very readable... The story of how a boy found family and stability in the white power movement, went to prison for hate crimes, lost everything when he eventually woke up to the fact that he didn't believe the dogma anymore, and lost more through addiction.

I'm pretty sure she wanted me to read it more for the bits on addiction than the bits on hate crimes. Th
Nov 21, 2012 Kirsten rated it really liked it
This book was really fascinating. It's a good book to read if you want to scare yourself straight, or give it to a teenager who needs that. I think Skinheads are the scariest kinds of people but after reading this book I realized they are just like other gangsters, just different colors. They just happen to think that they are superior to other gangsters due to the color of their skin. It's really sad. Frank Meeink gets caught up with the skinheads when he is 15 because up until then, nobody rea ...more
Nov 29, 2010 j rated it really liked it
this was way better than I anticipated. Probably what makes it so good is that, as far as I can tell, at no point does Meeink attempt to make himself into some sort of sad-sack figure who you should forgive even though he did horrible things because he's Really A Nice Guy Who Just Had Some Tough Breaks. He's remarkably frank (ha! let's pretend I did that on purpose) about who he is or was: a not-exactly-brilliant junkie who steals, lies, hurts people, and generally makes terrible life decisions, ...more
Jan 01, 2013 Amy rated it liked it
I can't in good conscience rate this more than 3 stars, though its quite a powerful read that will linger with you. I heard his interview on NPR and just had to read the book.

More than anything, to me it illustrates how very easy it is to turn anger into hate and hate to rage and violence. Most teenagers and angry angsty balls of hormones, and if not given good direction could so easily go the route of violence -- add in the god awful childhood that Frank had and the anger factor goes way up. Is
Rita Meade
Jun 28, 2010 Rita Meade rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, adult
If you are seeking deep insight into the perceptions and rationalizations of a Neo-Nazi skinhead, you probably will not find it in this book. Meeink's tale is indeed raw, gritty, and fascinating in a voyueristic way, but it really should be called "Autobiography of a Recovering Alcoholic, Ex-Junkie, Womanizer, Victim of Child Abuse, Pissed-Off 'White-Trash' Kid." I don't mean to be glib about Meeink's experiences. I just think that underneath the surface, this book isn't really about being a ski ...more
Nov 02, 2010 Emily rated it it was amazing
To all my sweet, kind hearted friends, I do not recommend this book. Let me just tell you that there are terrible and awful situations in this world. To my more hard-hearted friends, this book was a fantastic read.

When I finished this book I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders. It was so intense and violent and depressing. But, it was amazing. The dynamic between Frank Meeink telling his story to Jody Roy and the way she out the story together was fabulously done. There were distinct poin
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 18, 2011 Patrick O'Neil rated it really liked it
I'm a veteran of the punk era – late '70's to the mid '80's. I spent a lot of time out at clubs and shows across the country. And one of the worst aspects of that time were the skinheads. I fucking hate skinheads. They were a constant hassle, a violent roving band of degenerate hate mongers in Doc Martens fucking up the shows, getting in the way, and spouting racist rhetoric to a populace that was at best radically liberal, and at worst apolitical. So, it's pretty safe to say I have no love, and ...more
Apr 04, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it
In June of 2001, I had the opportunity to join my mother and a contingent from her school on a tour of the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California. Although I am not an educator, my mom thought I might be interested in going along (not to mention spending a little time with her since we live over 400 miles apart). The experience made a huge impression on me. The museum was so much more than I expected, covering a wide range of topics. It was an eye opener to say the least. Along with the ...more
Jessica Barkl
May 19, 2010 Jessica Barkl rated it really liked it
Growing up in Hayden, ID, I saw and knew about skinheads. wasn't a discussion, nor was it something I ever felt I was allowed to research or know about. This book definitely gave me a perspective on the negative imagination that I think I needed growing up, but was never in a situation where I could hear about it. I am a big believer that understanding the particulars of the negative imagination in any given racial crisis, holocaust, ethnic cleansing, or any other atrocity, is the key t ...more
May 02, 2010 Erik rated it liked it
Reminiscent of American History X, this collaborative autobiography makes up in its sheer and brutal honesty what it lacks in narrative style. (I admit I’m particular in my writerly tastes.) Although the subject matter of American racist skinheads (the two are not synonymous, as Meeink points out) is not a new one, Meeink’s story is powerful in that it addresses many of the roots causes of why people can become easily convinced and absorbed with such irrational and destructive beliefs. He also r ...more
Aug 02, 2010 Daniel rated it liked it
Reads like million little pieces but the co-author has gone to the lengths to verify most of the facts. Pretty powerful story thou Meeink is constantly trying to one up himself with new descriptions of exploits and wreckage. A fast read and short so definitely worth the time. Just not a great book because it's just his story and he doesn't even get to the point of realizing he's still enamored with his past life.
There is a lack of any real deep regret and he portrays an overhanging sense that h
Mia Searles (The Muses Circle)
I'll be perfectly honest-- other then assigned books that I HAD to read for high school and college, I rarely pick up biographies or autobiographies at a bookstore.

Three to four years ago I never read a young adult novel until the Twilight Saga. Now I am addicted.

A couple of weeks ago I was trying to track down my mom in Barnes & Noble and found her in the biography section. They are her type of books. As I was trying to help her find a couple of books on the Holocaust (crazy right?) I saw t
Dec 04, 2010 Allison rated it liked it
It's a good book. Interesting. Frightening. But not as inspiring as I was really hoping it would be given the commentary I'd read about it before I picked it up. He discusses issues that lead to his descent into the Skinhead movement and later into drugs but not in a clear cut 'cause and effect' fashion that I think would resonate with a wider audience. This lack of highlighting the determining factors is even more disappointing for me when he's been transformed through his epiphany and is out o ...more
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