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Pimp: The Story of My Life

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,201 Ratings  ·  295 Reviews
The book that brought black literature to the streets is back to show the Hip-Hop generation what it’s all about, where they came from.

A blueprint. A bible. What Sun Tzu’s Art of War was to ancient China, Pimp is to the streets. This is the story of Iceberg Slim’s life as he saw, felt, tasted, and smelled it. A trip through hell by the one man who lived to tell the tale. T
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Cash Money Content (first published 1967)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 07, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I bought this as an impulse purchase because it was displayed right next to the cash register at Shakespeare & Co. I'd seen it in the AK Press catalog before, and that is probably what made me pick it up. Pimp is entertaining in a kind of trashy way. It's a biography about a part of life that many middle class suburban folks like me don't know anything about. I have no idea how truthful the book is, or if it is sensationalism, or maybe even utter bullshit like those 'confessional' books writ ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Manny marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Photo with Pimp Stick

On Proxenetism and Pandering as Metaphors for Book-Reviewing

From a feminist/post-colonial viewpoint, the activities of book-reviewing and pimping have much in common. Operating within a patriarchal structure, the reviewer-pimp claims power over the essentially female text (recall Derrida's useful concept of "invagination"), and offers it to the reader-john as part of a quasi-commercial transaction where he is paid with "likes" or "comments". Just as the pimp symbolizes dominance over his girls u
Jun 14, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone properly preparing for a pimp-n-ho party
Recommended to Chris by: my local pimp
“Pimp” is fantastic. For about a decade now this has been one of my favorite books, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Granted, I should immediately admit that I probably like this book for all the wrong reasons; I’m sure that the ‘correct’ grounds for appreciating “Pimp” (if such standards have been established) are to ponder the struggles of the black man fighting to rise up in American society and to look at the infelicitous lot he’s been subjected to and to carefully inspect the in ...more
Jul 08, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who keep ocelots as pets
Iceberg Slim didn't invent the great American pimp archetype in 1969 but he codified it, he exposed it to mass culture, so he's an influential writer. Everything from Slick Rick to blaxploitation to the pathetic "pickup artist" scene owes a debt to him. So when Robin Kelley writes for the New Yorker, "I'm always amazed when I encounter well-read people unfamiliar with Iceberg Slim," I kinda get it. But it begs the question: does influence equal value? I mean, is this a good book?

It's not terribl
Jan 23, 2010 Jafar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You can try to sanitize this book, as Ervine Welsh has done in the introduction, and treat it as report on the social conditions of the racist America of the 1940’s and 50’s and one Black man’s attempt to break out of the cycle through the only way he found possible, blah blah blah. I couldn’t be bothered with any of this. I picked up this book to read some cool pimp talk. Pimp daddies and their bitches going about their binniz. Mindless degenerate entertainment. Like watching rap videos of the ...more
Jul 28, 2010 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trash, funny
What does it mean to be a hero in an antagonistic universe?
This book is a thoughtful and brutal examination of the choices one is forced to make in a world turned against the individual. In prose reminiscent of a street-wise Dostoyevsky, the author recounts the story of his life through various moralistic phases. These tend to impress upon the reader a recurring theme, not of the universe's intense silence to human cries, but of openly ambivalent laughter and playfulness that voices itself most

The thing about Robert “Iceberg Slim” Berg, the reason he is so magnetic, is that he is actually not the “Iceberg” he pretended to be. In this memoir of his life on the streets, he revels in his successes but also agonizes over his failures. He seems to tell us straight: this worked, that didn’t. He concludes it is necessary to hide one’s feelings behind an icy exterior, hiding his fear and doubt and empathy from his stable of whores and from other con men on the street who would double-cross hi
May 27, 2011 Naomi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This is not a book you can "like." It is a repulsive book you can learn something from and hope desperately that conditions have changed since its publication. You'll find cultural commentary and insights into the psyche, but you'll also find vile, unimaginable misogyny and disregard for humanity in general. I suppose I learned something, but the urge to vomit accompanied that awful education. Why the four stars, you say? Old Iceberg Slim's tale, in the most (for lack of any other way to say it) ...more
Sarah Etter
Jun 02, 2011 Sarah Etter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
where to start with this book? some of the most gruesome scenes i've ever read, but i couldn't resist it. about three pages in, i had to put it down and take a deep breath.

anyway - gut-wrenching account of life as a pimp before it became gangster rap fodder. i know there's a big debate - at least at the academic level - about whether slim wrote this book or it was ghostwritten. i'm not sure that matters to me - the story still needs to be told.

it's interesting that despite the fact that slim e
May 26, 2008 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining to the core, but that doesn't mean Iceberg brushes over the nuance and complexity surrounding his situation. "The Skull Book on Pimping" concisely covers issues that sociologists have prattled about in dense and meaningless jargon for decades. Slim is among the few honest autobiographers in his embrace of his contradictions. The book is neither self-glorifying nor moralizing. Nor is it, and it does not pretend to be, simply the facts. Like the hip-hop music it would influence severa ...more
Gary Foss
Think of the worst crimes a person can commit: murder, rape, child molestation, pandering drugs, torture, slavery. It doesn't matter which of those you think might be worse than any other. Take your pick. And then consider:

The pimp engages in all those things. They are, in fact, his routine.

I picked this book up after having stumbled across the documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp produced by Ice-T. Here's the trailer:

That film was interesting enou
Scott Rhee
“[A] pimp is really a whore who has reversed the game on whores. So... be as sweet as the scratch, no sweeter, and always stick a whore for a bundle before you sex her. A whore ain’t nothing but a trick to a pimp. Don’t let ‘em Georgia you. Always get your money in front just like a whore.” ---Iceberg Slim, “Pimp: The Story of My Life”

Robert Beck, a.k.a. Iceberg Slim, was born in 1918 to a single mother. He never knew his father, who left town before he was born. His mother worked several jobs t
Rebecca McNutt
From the films and modern music videos often pushed out in the media, many people often see life on the streets, surrounded by girls, money and drugs, to be glamorous, but Pimp is one of few books that gives readers a view of the ugly side of things, as told from the perspective of a former pimp himself. Beneath the gold and lights and fast music and fun, there is crime, a false sense of materialism, prostitution, junkies and winos, hobos and crooks, corrupt cops and danger at every turn. It's a ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Zoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Slim writes with poetic ease of the streets, he was born with storytellers talent. He lived a hard life and was a real pimp sometimes he doesn't fully describe his pimp ways, but I'm sure he wasn't as soft as he sometimes portrays. I love all Slims books and suggest them to any one interested in the world of prostitution and big city's back in the good old days, when gangsters were truly gangsters and hustling was an exciting way of life. Similar style to my idol Herbert Huncke, pure, natural &a ...more
AJ Conroy
Mar 07, 2009 AJ Conroy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A pimp is happy when his whores giggle. He knows they are still asleep." Chilling.

This was a loan from Dan. The narrator is such a bastard. If it wasn't an autobiography, it would be decried as misogynistic, which it is. But that would be the point, right? I mean, he is a pimp. He beats his women, hooks them on drugs and sucks the life out of them until they run away. Hustle & Flow owes a great debt to Pimp and its sympathetic portrayal of that world.

Putting morality aside, if one can, the

Doug Vanderweide
I'm not entirely sure what to make of this book. So let's go through the bullet points:

-- It's nearly indecipherable at times, thanks to the 1940s hustler slang in which it's written; especially, the dialog.

Yes, there's a glossary to help one figure out what he means.

Yes, one can argue that the extensive use of period slang lends authenticity and context to what's being said.

I found it stultifying.

At times, the narrative is so laden down with slang -- especially, as Iceberg Slim recalls decad
Lex Alexander
Jul 30, 2013 Lex Alexander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The one thing that I did learn from this book, and it's a lesson that will stay ingrained in my head for the rest of my life is that even the freakiest bitch don't like to be hit with a wire coat hanger that's been twisted into a metal whip. Even if the woman likes being smacked around, being beaten with the coat hanger will set her straight (straight meaning here spread her legs willingly for you, and then spread them for money which she will then give to you without cheating you of any of it). ...more
Samsquatch Samsquatch
I learned everything i know from this book. I was practically raised by it, as well as sports highlights commentary reels. I currently am a pastor at the Skokie Baptist revival church in Skokieville, NY, and I make all my flock read this book. I've actually taped the pages into my bible (after Deuteronomy), so I can quote easily from it. Sure, some of the older members don't like the dirty language and risque situations (the scene where all the ho's air their battered pussies out of the side of ...more
S. K. Pentecost
Jul 10, 2015 S. K. Pentecost rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to give it 4 stars, because it is written in such a way that, as a male reader, I can forget about all the victimization and blaming of others he perpetrates while the sheer cool of the story envelopes me.

Part of me justifies this by noting that like many autobiographies, this one is too dramatically compelling to be anything approaching non-fiction.

If I were a woman though, I can easily imagine that Iceberg Slim's story would come off like smoldering bamboo shoots under the fingernails as
Oct 07, 2015 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
You've heard of Ice Tea and Ice Cube...both of whom took the name as an homage to Iceberg Slim, author of Pimp. Prompted to read this after watching the movie "Straight out of Compton", it's an autobiography of the rise and fall of a real life pimp in mid century America. The story unfolds across Rockford, Milwaukee, and Chicago, which peaked my intrigue.

I was told if you were a black man in the 1970s, you read this book, along with those by Malcom X. It gives a dark insight into the misogyny t
Danny Kroha
Dec 16, 2007 Danny Kroha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring pimps.
When I first bought this book I just assumed that it took place in the '60s and '70s but it actually takes place in the '20s,'30s, and 40's and yeah, it's amazing. Told in a very straight forward matter of fact style, cold and hard and filled with old school street slang. Just like you'd expect from a guy named Iceberg Slim.
Joe Revelator
Jun 22, 2014 Joe Revelator rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pimp is the autobiography of Robert Lee Maupin, AKA Iceberg Slim, one of the most notorious prostitution ringleaders to come out of the mid 1930’s. And before this review goes any further, a warning:

This post will contain adult language and content. Nothing sexual will be described in explicit detail, but the subject matter is of an adult nature. If you are bothered by prostitution, gambling, sex, or violence, turn back now…

Pimp (pmp) Noun: A man who solicits for a prostitute or brothel and live
Петър Стойков
Разбира се, човекът е сводник и вероятно си измисля половината неща или най-малкото доста пресилва нещата, но погледът му върху ъндърграунда на на САЩ през 30-те и 40-те и по-специално проституцията и сводничеството са уникални. Отношенията на сводниците с техните момичета са прозорец към най-суровата и неподправена човешка природа, защото са извън всякакви законови и социални норми и това, което се вижда в книгата ще ви накара да преосмислите виждането си за отношението мъже-жени. Като научно о ...more
Smooth. Slick. Poetic, slithered in pimpology.

I think it is clear pimps are not nice people. They are cunning, abusive, emotionless creatures and liars. And their street walkers are lost souls, foolish and not too bright. That's why I loved this book. It's blunt, gritty, and organic.

Some might read Pimp and believe it's teaching tool how to pimp and to whore. Granted, while some might read this book and take it that way, I look at it as to why one shouldn't get into the life at all. Like what I
Dec 13, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Isn't it funny how pimps and pimping are totally mainstream pop culture terms and attitudes among young people these days? From multitudes of 18 year old white boy "pimps" on Myspace, to several HBO documentaries about pimps, to grown white men saying things like "keep your pimp hand strong" and dressing up as parody pimps trying to be funny (this has to be the most tired joke on the planet at this point) to Uncle Toms like Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent doing their modern day minstrel show on Mtv, to t ...more
Jerky Leboeuf
Mar 17, 2011 Jerky Leboeuf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of jazz, autobiographies, crime fiction and good writing in general.
Equal parts autobiography, confessional, manifesto and training manual, PIMP provides the reader with a 3D, Technicolor expose of a much-maligned profession to which many have aspired, but few have had the brains and ruthless chill to pull off. PIMP is one of the most gripping, entertaining and - yes - important narratives of the Black Experience in 20th Century America.

Let me be clear about this - PIMP is one hell of a book. I recommend it to any and all admirers of good writing. Iceberg's pros
Jim Barton
Nov 17, 2013 Jim Barton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not everyday you read an autobiography of a pimp with an IQ of 175? I first became interested in Iceberg Slim back in my formative years in the late 60s when I frequented a bookstore that had books by Iceberg Slim hidden behind the counter as if they were porn. Although I never dared to ask about the books, I was fascinated by the author's name and the 'forbidden-fruit' treatment of his books. Later, in the early seventies I saw and enjoyed the movie version of his book, Trick Baby. But, I ...more
Samir Dhond
I bought this book because it was much talked about on Goodreads as well as on some other sites. Frankly speaking, the book neither gave me an insight into the world totally unknown andalien to me nor did it provide any insights into human behavior. It was just a story told told by a person. The most difficult part for me was to understand his language. The code words, the description, nothing made sense to me, until much later. While the book was slightly boring at times, my curiosity kept me g ...more
Barbara Morgan
Apr 25, 2015 Barbara Morgan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-books-read
Excellent book
Iceberg Slim did an excellent job in writing this story.
I purchased this book as part of a (very, very small) urban fiction collection I am attempting to create for one of the libraries. (That's also why I re-read The Coldest Winter Ever). It is actually a biography, and not fiction at all, but I found reference to it on a lot of "best urban fiction" lists. Apparently, it is considered by many to be a pre-cursor to the genre. It's inspired a variety of artists in the last half century or so; the stage names Ice T and Ice Cube are both homages to the ...more
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Iceberg Slim, also known as Robert Beck, was born as Robert Lee Maupin. Novelist and poet whose most famous novel, Pimp, is semi-autobiographical.
More about Iceberg Slim...

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“Before I'd touch a square bitch's slit,
I'd suck a thousand clappy pricks and swim through liquid shit,
They got green puke between their rotten toes,
And snot runs from their funky nose,
I hope square bitches become syphilitic wrecks,
I hope they fall through their own assholes and break their motherfucking necks.”
“An emotional debt is hard to square.” 10 likes
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