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Think Black: A Memoir of Sacrifice, Success, and Self-Loathing in Corporate America

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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  89 ratings  ·  21 reviews
In this thought-provoking and heartbreaking memoir, an award-winning writer tells the story of his father, John Stanley Ford, the first black software engineer at IBM, revealing how racism insidiously affected his father’s view of himself and their relationship.

In 1947, Thomas J. Watson set out to find the best and brightest minds for IBM. At City College he met young acco
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Hardcover, 285 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Amistad
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Viral
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC at BEA 2019!

I really liked this memoir from Clyde Ford, telling the story of his upbringing in NYC while his dad became the first black systems engineer at IBM, and their constant clashes with their different perspectives about work, politics, and social issues. Ford came of age amidst the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement, radicalized by the injustice that surrounded him and willing to lean into his Blackness, while his dad took a more conservative approa
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Ebb
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a very interesting look at the experience of a father and son who were hired during different time periods at IBM. Ford gives us a lot of information regarding his father and how he felt about his job, however I wish that we had gotten more insight into what both men did from day to day at IBM. We got little snippets of their work and certain examples of how their race played into the way in which their coworkers treated them but I never felt like I got a full account of ...more
Latoya
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I could not read this book as quickly as I'd hoped. I kept stopping not only to underline, tab, and make notes, but to catch my breath. The way in which Dr. Ford weaves together America's history with race, his own familial history, and that of IBM's, it all required me to step back a few times to take in all the information. This is a great read, and Dr. Ford is a compelling storyteller. I feel as if this book hasn't received the marketing and attention it deserves.
freckledbibliophile
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Think Black by Clyde W. Ford was an interesting and illuminating read. I found it a delight to read about Ford, his father and family background.

I was moved by some of the histories I took away from this book, including IBM’s connection with the Nazi’s and its involvement with other injustices.

I liked the contrast between Ford and his father when it came to their approach to dealing with the prejudices that surrounded them both. I too found it admirable how Ford’s father made it his objective
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Abiola
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-boiii
Each chapter starts with a memory of the author's father, the first black engineer at IBM, but what follows is so much more. Ford goes into his genealogy, brief history of computing, and social movements that led to his father working at IBM and eventually himself. I really loved so many things about this memoir, coming from someone that doesn't usually read them. While only a short section this story is also a reminder to be authentically yourself in the face of being "the first" regardless of ...more
Aqura (engineersreadtoo)
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
lyde Ford writes a memoir for his father, John Stanley Ford, the first Black software engineer at IBM, interweaving their experiences at IBM while also unveiling the role of technology itself as a tool to facilitate racial oppression worldwide.

Clyde really just scratches the surface on the day to day life at IBM but from what is revealed, I can tell that it not much has changed. Large engineering corporations are still overwhelmingly white, male dominated. Blatant racism may have disappeared som
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Temika
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I felt a personal connection to this book as I am also an engineer and my first job was at IBM. This is the story of the first black engineer, John Stanley Ford, who was hired by Watson Sr. himself. This memoir was written by and through the eyes of his son who also ended up working for IBM. This book touched on A LOT of things: misconception of diversity in the workplace, professional racism, eugenics, the "first" blacks, IBM and the Holocaust, IBM and Apartheid, and a history of technology tha ...more
Ashley
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookshelf
A beautiful and multi-layered memoir. It is written from a blerd (Black nerd). There is a great amount of history that empowers the story of Clyde’s father, John and Clyde’s eventual work. There are complex computations throughout the memoir to drive the work done at IBM. Where it could have been a “woe is me story” about a Black man in a White man’s environment, the story is reflective on family and self-worth as well.
Sally
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An enjoyable and informative book with an interesting perspective on a whole range of issues relating to the author and his father's experiences as Black men working for a giant technology corporation in the mid 20th century. I thought the author did a great job at contextualising his family experiences and linking to the wider civil rights movement and global events. It would have been great to go deeper into some of that context - I felt like that there was scope to explore even mor ...more
Chris Bailey
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I picked this up on a whim from the new biographies shelf at the library. I was fascinated by the computer history details (some components of which I am intimately familiar with from my almost 50 years of computer experience). The IBM mystique was a huge part of my experience and details about the company were also interesting (for example I never knew about the holocaust and apartheid connections). And the details of the lives of two black men were eye opening for me. I do not argue my white p ...more
Dru
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully written book by a black man who explores his relationship with his father, their careers at IBM, systematic and institutional racism within IBM and in USA and more. Ford shared incredibly insightful information about the workplace, how it differed for him and his father who were in different generations of how USA viewed people of color. The sheer amount of examples of racism, whether in 1:1 or on a larger global scale was astounding. Scary, really.

Highly recommend this for anybod
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Lindsay
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super interesting about the dark history of IBM and the lack of diversity in tech. The author wrote an op-ed in the LA Times talking about IBM's role in the Holocaust and the Apartheid, and what he and his father did at IBM to try to right the path.
Annarella
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, edelweiss
This book is full of food for thought and tells an interesting and engaging story.
I loved the story that made me reflect and the style of writing.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
June
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I learned about IBM’s very checkered past and when the book focused on this I was fascinated. Unfortunately I found much of the book choppy and personally was not that interested in the geek facts about IBM.
Diane
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I learned a ton from this book.
Carl
May 11, 2020 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: kindle-or-other
It was too laborious to read. Just couldn't hold my interest.
Diane Madlon-Kay
Oct 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
1 star
Jeanne
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting memoir, biography, autobiography, and a primer on technology. Very thought provoking book! Highly recommend.
Never Without a Book
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
John Stanley Ford became the first black software engineer at IBM in 1947, personally selected by the president and founder, Thomas J. Watson Sr., Ford’s new position didn’t sit well with many of his White coworkers. Fast forward two decades later, Clyde W. Ford also becomes an employee of IBM and interweaving his and his father’s experience we get an engrossing glimpse of the Tech world in this memoir Think Black.

This memoir really spoke to me. I am a Black woman that works in the tech industr
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April
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I got this book as an arc at a library conference. It was so insightful as to the history of race and technology, especially as told through the experiences of the author and his father, who was the first Black software engineer hired at IBM back in the 1940s. I love how the author unapologetically traces IBM’s racist past, from its degradation of Black employees to its close involvement with the Nazi regime leading up to and during WWII, to its business ties to apartheid in South Africa. I also ...more
Sarah
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Feb 17, 2020
Susan Swigert
rated it it was ok
Sep 22, 2020
Rich
rated it it was amazing
Jul 26, 2020
Vicki
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Sep 05, 2020
Hollind
rated it it was amazing
Dec 07, 2019
Cosette
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Nov 05, 2019
Gabby Buckles
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Jun 21, 2020
BRANDON LEE JOYNER
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Goodreads Librari...: Think Black needs hardcover page number corrected 2 7 Jun 30, 2020 09:54PM  

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Clyde W. Ford is a software engineer, a chiropractor, and a psychotherapist. He’s also the award-winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, whose most recent book, THINK BLACK: A Memoir will be published in September 2019 by Amistad/HarperCollins.

Clyde W. Ford earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Mathematics from Wesleyan University in 1971, then worked as a systems engi
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