AN "ESSENTIAL DOCUMENT OF CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN LIFE": FIRST EDITION OF JOHN HOWARD GRIFFIN'S BLACK LIKE ME, 1961
GRIFFIN, John Howard. Black Like Me. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961. Octavo, original white cloth, original dust jacket. $850.
First edition of a "piercing and memorable" account of racism in America by white writer John Howard Griffin, his record of traveling across the South in 1959 disguised as an African American, in the elusive original dust jacket.
In 1959 Griffin, a white writer, darkened his skin to prepare for a journey across the South disguised as an African American. His chilling record of the experience, Black Like Me, "told white Americans what they had long refused to believe… Before Griffin could publish reports on his experiment in Sepia magazine, which had helped bankroll his travels, word leaked out. In interviews with Time and CBS, he explained what he'd been up to without trying to insult Southern whites. He was subjected to what he called 'a dirty bath' of hatred. Returning to his Texas hometown, he was hanged in effigy; his parents received threats on his life. Any day now, Griffin heard, a mob would come to castrate him." After sending his family to Mexico for their safety, he joined them and "turned his Sepia articles into Black Like Me. In October 1961, Black Like Me was published, to wide acclaim. The New York Times hailed it as an 'essential document of contemporary American life.' Newsweek called it 'piercing and memorable'…. Black Like Me remains a remarkable document. Griffin changed more than the color of his skin. He helped change the way America saw itself" (Smithsonian Magazine). Precedes the same year's English edition. Blockson 2358. Small faint notation to rear free endpaper.
Text very fresh with mere trace soiling to cloth; edge-wear, mild toning to spine of bright dust jacket. A near-fine copy.