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Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi, with poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.

Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

Topics: Mississippi, United States of America, Chicago, American South, 1920s, Bildungsroman, Creative Nonfiction, Inspirational, Contemplative, Poignant, Race Relations, Coming of Age, Childhood, Poverty, Communism, American History, Civil and Political Rights, Segregation, Politics, Working Class, Social Change, Art & Artists, Discrimination, African American Culture & Characters, Harlem Renaissance, Existentialism, 20th Century, American Author, and Philosophical

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061935480
List price: $10.99
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I first read On Writing Well as a college student 26 years ago, and because I was a photojournalism major, I remember being impressed by what amounted to my first "writer's book."

Zinsser knows how to craft a sentence and make a point, and the overall impression is one of being taught by a patient, gray-haired professor.

On Writing Well is aimed squarely at non-fiction writers (not surprising given Zinsser's newspaper background), and I'd suggest it's still an ideal primer for new writers.

Initially published in 1976, On Writing Well was reissued in a 2006 "30th Anniversary Edition" which included a new section on writing memoirs.

Overall, this book has aged fairly well (good writing is still good writing), though writers nowadays are facing new challenges, and you won't find answers to those issues here. Those looking for step-by-step guides to getting published won't find what they want here.

Instead, Zinsser has written a nice, patient, intelligent book about writing better. It's a classic and for good reason, though it is starting to show some wear around the edges.more
After reading this, it is clear that Zinsser is well qualified to write such a difficult book. Writing is a "subjective experience". So to produce a how-to guide seems to be an unattainable task. Zinsser's years of experience pour through the pages leaving the impression that writing can be enjoyable and done well. I shall return to this book again and again!!!more
I've read some guides about how to write well, and they've always had such terrible advice and used such awful, vulgar examples (usually taken from their own genre fiction) that I had abandoned all hope. Ostensibly, Zinsser's book is about writing nonfiction, but it works well for every kind of writing, and is the best guide to writing I have ever read.more
Excellent book on writing and thinking about writing. Zinsser covers a wide breadth of topics, from writing memoirs, to writing about travel, to writing about sports, and more. He makes it very simple - write about people doing things, and write more like you speak than less. Good chapter on organizing a longer work as well.more
My job requires me to be able to write well, and this book really helped me to hone my writing skills. Zinsser's advice and techniques are concrete and specific, and after applying his suggestions and theories to my own work, I improved my style tremendously.more
On Writing Well is a simple guide for writing well. Thankfully, as a book about writing should be, it is written well. I found the advice to be accessible and ready to be applied.If you write (and you do) you should read this book.more
Zinsser has produced an inspiring and practical manual in On Writing Well. My AP English teacher in high school recommended this book to me as a reference when I went to her asking how best to improve my own writing——obviously, I aspired to publish. I particularly enjoy Zinsser's thoughts on modern memoirs.more
Zinsser's writing is concise, clear, and entertaining -- which is a good thing, because those qualities are exactly what this book preaches. Through numerous examples from published (and unpublished) writings by Zinsser and others, he analyzes and demonstrates all the basic dos and don'ts of nonfiction writing. It's more than just basics; it's feel and muse and common sense too. The fact that this book has been in print so many years and updated so many times shows how timeless it is. Walk -- don't run -- through this book.more
Although there is a lot of great information within the book, I found myself sighing over the 'pronoun' issue and multiple references to he (as if I am he, or whom I would be interviewing as he). Even though this particular issue is discussed in the book and that it has been revised over time to be more inclusive or vague, I found that it pulled me out the experience of reading the book.more
I was forced to purchase this book for a course I took, but I didn't sell it back. It was amusing and very informative.more
Hands down, the best book I've ever read on the craft of writing non-fiction. A book I've owned for fifteen years, I still return to it; still find new things to learn from it. It never fails to inform and inspire.more
The best book on writing I've ever read. This book lightly touches on grammar, only to get it out of the way, and then is on to the act of writing. He focuses on the thought process of writing, what to write about, how to write about different subjects, and most importantly how to rewrite what you've just written. Everybody that writes, anything, should read the first section, titled "Principles". Those first fifty pages apply to all forms of writing and will serve you well. William Zinsser wrote in such an engaging style that I'll be adding at least two more of his books to my reading list. And because he talked about it so fondly I might even reread Walden, but that's a long shot.more
Zinsser is a patronizing fellow with sub-par organizational skills, but one with a point: writing well is applying common sense to structured communication. Some of the chapters are a little insulting, weaving freely to and from ironic hypocrisy, but well-chosen excerpts swoop in to save the day. A mixed bag, mostly good.more
I stumbled upon this book as I was looking for a guide to writing essays. It looked interesting and the first few pages read well, so I bought it. Little did I know that this book would change my world view on writing and learning. In the first few chapters Mr. Zinsser sounds like an old fashioned English teacher, harping on the fundamentals and simplicity. The fact that he is right made the message easier to absorb. In the latter chapters he focuses on different kinds of writing, that is when he hooked me. Even if you never write a memoir, it is fascinating for me to read about how people go about writing one. Now I am writing my own, for my own consumption, because the process sounds like something that is enlightening and worth doing. The same is true for his chapers on art critique, sports, humor, etc.I have also gained a massive reading list from Mr. Zinsser, now I am curious to a whole new world that I was not aware of and more importantly, I did not care about. But he made me interested in these books because he made me curious about how these authors are able to communicate their message so clearly.more
Read all 19 reviews

Reviews


I first read On Writing Well as a college student 26 years ago, and because I was a photojournalism major, I remember being impressed by what amounted to my first "writer's book."

Zinsser knows how to craft a sentence and make a point, and the overall impression is one of being taught by a patient, gray-haired professor.

On Writing Well is aimed squarely at non-fiction writers (not surprising given Zinsser's newspaper background), and I'd suggest it's still an ideal primer for new writers.

Initially published in 1976, On Writing Well was reissued in a 2006 "30th Anniversary Edition" which included a new section on writing memoirs.

Overall, this book has aged fairly well (good writing is still good writing), though writers nowadays are facing new challenges, and you won't find answers to those issues here. Those looking for step-by-step guides to getting published won't find what they want here.

Instead, Zinsser has written a nice, patient, intelligent book about writing better. It's a classic and for good reason, though it is starting to show some wear around the edges.more
After reading this, it is clear that Zinsser is well qualified to write such a difficult book. Writing is a "subjective experience". So to produce a how-to guide seems to be an unattainable task. Zinsser's years of experience pour through the pages leaving the impression that writing can be enjoyable and done well. I shall return to this book again and again!!!more
I've read some guides about how to write well, and they've always had such terrible advice and used such awful, vulgar examples (usually taken from their own genre fiction) that I had abandoned all hope. Ostensibly, Zinsser's book is about writing nonfiction, but it works well for every kind of writing, and is the best guide to writing I have ever read.more
Excellent book on writing and thinking about writing. Zinsser covers a wide breadth of topics, from writing memoirs, to writing about travel, to writing about sports, and more. He makes it very simple - write about people doing things, and write more like you speak than less. Good chapter on organizing a longer work as well.more
My job requires me to be able to write well, and this book really helped me to hone my writing skills. Zinsser's advice and techniques are concrete and specific, and after applying his suggestions and theories to my own work, I improved my style tremendously.more
On Writing Well is a simple guide for writing well. Thankfully, as a book about writing should be, it is written well. I found the advice to be accessible and ready to be applied.If you write (and you do) you should read this book.more
Zinsser has produced an inspiring and practical manual in On Writing Well. My AP English teacher in high school recommended this book to me as a reference when I went to her asking how best to improve my own writing——obviously, I aspired to publish. I particularly enjoy Zinsser's thoughts on modern memoirs.more
Zinsser's writing is concise, clear, and entertaining -- which is a good thing, because those qualities are exactly what this book preaches. Through numerous examples from published (and unpublished) writings by Zinsser and others, he analyzes and demonstrates all the basic dos and don'ts of nonfiction writing. It's more than just basics; it's feel and muse and common sense too. The fact that this book has been in print so many years and updated so many times shows how timeless it is. Walk -- don't run -- through this book.more
Although there is a lot of great information within the book, I found myself sighing over the 'pronoun' issue and multiple references to he (as if I am he, or whom I would be interviewing as he). Even though this particular issue is discussed in the book and that it has been revised over time to be more inclusive or vague, I found that it pulled me out the experience of reading the book.more
I was forced to purchase this book for a course I took, but I didn't sell it back. It was amusing and very informative.more
Hands down, the best book I've ever read on the craft of writing non-fiction. A book I've owned for fifteen years, I still return to it; still find new things to learn from it. It never fails to inform and inspire.more
The best book on writing I've ever read. This book lightly touches on grammar, only to get it out of the way, and then is on to the act of writing. He focuses on the thought process of writing, what to write about, how to write about different subjects, and most importantly how to rewrite what you've just written. Everybody that writes, anything, should read the first section, titled "Principles". Those first fifty pages apply to all forms of writing and will serve you well. William Zinsser wrote in such an engaging style that I'll be adding at least two more of his books to my reading list. And because he talked about it so fondly I might even reread Walden, but that's a long shot.more
Zinsser is a patronizing fellow with sub-par organizational skills, but one with a point: writing well is applying common sense to structured communication. Some of the chapters are a little insulting, weaving freely to and from ironic hypocrisy, but well-chosen excerpts swoop in to save the day. A mixed bag, mostly good.more
I stumbled upon this book as I was looking for a guide to writing essays. It looked interesting and the first few pages read well, so I bought it. Little did I know that this book would change my world view on writing and learning. In the first few chapters Mr. Zinsser sounds like an old fashioned English teacher, harping on the fundamentals and simplicity. The fact that he is right made the message easier to absorb. In the latter chapters he focuses on different kinds of writing, that is when he hooked me. Even if you never write a memoir, it is fascinating for me to read about how people go about writing one. Now I am writing my own, for my own consumption, because the process sounds like something that is enlightening and worth doing. The same is true for his chapers on art critique, sports, humor, etc.I have also gained a massive reading list from Mr. Zinsser, now I am curious to a whole new world that I was not aware of and more importantly, I did not care about. But he made me interested in these books because he made me curious about how these authors are able to communicate their message so clearly.more
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