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Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America
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Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man in America

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  4,522 ratings  ·  265 reviews
One of our most visceral and important memoirs on race in America, this is the story of Nathan McCall, who began life as a smart kid in a close, protective family in a black working-class neighborhood. Yet by the age of fifteen, McCall was packing a gun and embarking on a criminal career that five years later would land him in prison for armed robbery.

In these pages, McCal
Paperback, 432 pages
Published January 31st 1995 by Vintage Books USA (first published 1994)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  4,522 ratings  ·  265 reviews

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Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Nathan McCall's Makes Me Wanna Holler tells the story of McCall's childhood in a predominantly black neighborhood, an area prone to gang-related activities. The book is set in the late-1900s during McCall's teenage years, when he and his friends were transitioning from naive youth to gangsters. An African American teen who wants nothing more than to be the "baadest" guy in the neighborhood, Nathan McCall finds himself robbing strangers, shooting white homes, and fighting rival gangs. McCall feel ...more
Nov 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
I remember when I was in high school and college how so many black men I knew absolutely loved this book. In fact, when I was reading this on the train a couple weeks ago, a 20-something year old black guy took the time to tell me that he read it twice. "Makes Me Wanna Holler" is a very engaging book that gives readers a lot of insight into how a "thug" is created. The author, Nathan McCall, did some pretty awful things in his youth. He did everything...running trains on girls (gang rape), muggi ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a book that you would recommend to everyone that passed you on the street? Well thats how I feel about the book Makes Me Wanna Holler: a young black man in America, by Nathan McCall. "Honest, so well written, so powerful... The book belongs in every prison library", says USA Today. Time mentions the book as, "soul-searing". Claude Brown, Author of Manchild in the Promise Land, calls it A modern classic. Makes Me Wanna Holler is one of the best books i could recommend. To a yo ...more
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I have such conflicted feelings about this book. Nathan McCall is honest, perhaps to a fault, about his past as well as his reflections on his adult life. We are in the same age cohort; McCall graduated high school in the year before I did, and had we not lived at opposite sides of the US, we could have attended high school together. AND I am glad e did not meet then, after reading about McCall's frightful "streety" behavior as a teen. is parents did little to stop or redirect him as he and his ...more
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This book was originally a gift to my mother from a friend of hers back in 1996. My mother didn't like it, but being the precocious ten year old I was, I managed to sneak and read this book from cover to cover.

I have to say, graphic depictions of rape and physical abuse aside, this is one of my favourite books. Here's why: Very few books deal with the mentality of ex-con African-American men and how they wind up in prison to begin with. Nathan McCall is as honest as he can be about his feelings
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
Before talking with my roommate, I hated the book and for some reason was offended by the way he wrote this. It seemed like I was at fault for everything because I am white. Then I spoke to my roommate and now I realize how ignorant he is and how he brought all of his troubles on himself... not because he's black, but because he puts the blame on other people. At one part, he said he didn't want to be the stereotyped black father who has kids with different mothers. Low and behold, that's what h ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
Haven't read this in a while, but it made me want to holler alright. It is not to say that the society we live in is unracist and colourblind but for the love of the goddess's ample breasts, a white man did NOT put a gun in your hand nor did he tell you to rape women. Take some responsibility!
Charles Sheehan-Miles
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nathan McCall's Makes Me Wanna Holler was one of the first contemporary accounts of Black America that I read as a young adult. Re-reading it now in my forties, it's even more powerful. McCall describes so much that is in the headlines today, including questions about the worth of black lives in America. His personal transformation -- from a kid in prison for armed robbery to a senior reporter with the Washington Post -- is inspirational.

McCall doesn't offer any easy fix or prescription which w
Chiraz Ben a
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book had quite a deep effect on me. It literally haunted me for days. While I resent many of the things the author did in his younger days, especially the way he and his buddies treated and abused women (those so-called "trains" just make me shudder with utter disbelief and disgust), I could feel his pain and confusion. The main reason I came to really like and appreciate this book is because it gave me a genuine insider's perspective on why young black men seem so disillusioned and misguid ...more
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just about every young boy should pick this up. Straight to the point on the hard view of impulse and pointless decision making which leads to jail time and the verbiage further details the life of jail...behind the curtains. How the long standing inmates try and at times succeed at mind playery on those that aren't so harden just to get sexual oppression off.
Dec 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rapist and would-be murderer Nathan McCall blames his problems on white people in this graphic memoir.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Makes Me Wanna Holler was an auto biography written by Nathan McCall and is about his struggles growing up in his hood, Cavalier Manor, and how he was able to make the necessary changes to become a better person to his family and community.He starts by sharing his early childhood experiences of growing up in Virginia, where peer pressure steered him into outrageous behavior. A favorite game in Portsmouth, his hometown, during the late sixties-early seventies era, was "get back". It eased the you ...more
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a mini-review I wrote of this book immediately after reading it in 1996:

I think everyone should read this book. it doesn't matter what race you are or what gender you are, i think you should read it.

This is one man's story of growing up as a black man in a mostly violent and seemingly relentlessly prejudiced world. I had a hard time reading it, though i'm glad i made it through until the end.

I hated mr. mccall in the very beginning of the book. I don't know if there is another way i coul
Kierra J,
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book will always be on my personal Top Books I've Ever Read list. I have given this book as a gift to many young men and have read it at least four times myself. I think that it's highly relative to the young black male in America who doesn't exactly understand his place in society. Actually, it could be relevant to any young male in this country who is pressured to be "cool" and subdue his feelings and brilliance in order to be accepted by his peers. This book is unique to me because this ...more
Dee's Reading Zone
May 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Note: Still a deep and remarkably potent read today with racism being so overt with a new president who does nothing to help the situation

powerful quote:

"The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He wouldn't blea
Jul 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago and it was very helpful to me to understand Nathan's point of view and his experiences in life. I wanted to holler with him many times - that is when I wasn't driven to tears over the hard things he experienced growing up in the inner-city, in poverty and constantly confronted by racism. I would like to think we have surpassed such terrible things, but I know that isn't the case. This is a good book - it will stretch your empathy, and call you to do better - I ho ...more
May 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really, really wanted to like this book. There were parts of this book that taught me something new, especially parts that explained where many of the stereotypes surrounding black men derived from. Yet as a whole, I found Nathan's voice to be angry and full of pain. It felt like he needed to write this book to vent and share his anger, and I didn't feel as connected to Nathan as I wanted to be. It made me wanna holler...
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobigraphies
I love this book. He is very raw. He gives a lot of insight on black men by revealing a great deal about himself. This is his autobiography. i couldn't help but draw parallels between his story and malcolm x's. This is one of my favorites of all time. I read it when i was 15.
Jaree Francis
A very engaging read.
Jun 27, 2016 rated it did not like it

I laughed, I cried - mostly I just shook my head and rolled my eyes.
Mj Max
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this in middle school & still have the book today. One of the most memorable books i have ever read in my life! ...more
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book about 25 years ago. To say it stayed with me is an understatement. It haunted me. As a white Canadian woman, what do I know about the experience of being a black young man in the USA? Can I relate to the systemic racism, the hatred, the senseless violence, the need to prove oneself, to belong, to claim ownership of something, anything, the beating down of self-worth and self-confidence? And I'm sure I'm over-simplifying it, but of course I can't relate. But I heard every w ...more
R Fontaine
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This autobiography is difficult to summarize as his story is both dated (written in 1994) yet very contemporary regarding the issues he shares and the blame he distributes.
Growing up in an all black neighborhood, he lived a life he could imitate: a rough strutting, stealing,
raping thug: and eventually,a man-child imprisoned for armed robbery.
Amazingly, after prison, he builds a new life as a successful journalist for both the Atlanta constitution and the Washington post.
A previous book about a y
Lavell Ray
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not so much I can say without adding spoilers. Excellent read. Going from Loving books, to hating them for the boring books school dictated I read, this one was powerful. I read straight through it.

I read this book during a tough time in my life (14 years old in a youth detention center). It helped me reshape my thinking about the things I was doing, realize I wasn't alone in the ways I was thinking or being treated, and gave me a greater understanding for some of the social issues that I wasn'
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bios
I wish I could make every black or hispanic young man read this.

He gives readers matter-of-fact insight into the behavior, anger and dysfunction of his upbringing without being pretentious or preachy. One of the things I will always remember from this book was McCall's recollection of how he and his friends worked and stole from a department store in his neighborhood, eventually causing the store to go out of business. From his initial point of view as a kid, the thefts were partly fun and part
Dec 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
This man should be in jail.
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this in high school and loved it. I need to read it again.
Sidik Fofana
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
SIX WORD REVIEW: St. Augustine and Malcolm X remixed.
Paul Froehlich
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The temptation for autobiographers is to sanitize and justify their behavior. That’s something Nathan McCall can’t be accused of. He describes dozens of crimes he committed, and suggests there were hundreds more. During his teens he was, among other things, a burglar, armed robber, serial rapist, drug dealer, attempted murderer, and convicted felon. Coming from a stable, two parent family that owned a house and cars, McCall didn’t have the excuse of coming from the projects. He had graduated hig ...more
Kara Nandin
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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“Much later, when I thought about it, I realized that my folks were typical of their generation of parents: Their idea of raising children was making sure we were clothed, fed, and protected. They didn't focus much on us unless we were sick or had done something wrong. They didn't hold conversations with us. Love was understood rather than expressed, and values were transmitted by example, not word of mouth.” 5 likes
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