The Envy of the World by Ellis Cose
On Being a Black Man in America

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With an eloquence and compassion reminiscent of James Baldwin's Letter to My Nephew, Ellis Cose presents a frank and realistic examination of the daunting challenges facing black men in twenty-first-century America and offers a way out of the cycle of defeatism and despair that wreaks havoc on America's black communities.
Black men have never had more opportunity for success than they do today. Yet, as Ellis Cose bluntly puts it, "We are watching the largest group of black males in history stumbling through life with a ball and chain wrapped around their legs. If brought together in one incorporated region, the population of black males behind bars would instantly become the twelfth largest urban area in America." Add to that the ravages of AIDS, murder, poverty, and illiteracy, the raging anger between many black men and women, and the widening gap separating the black elite from the so-called underclass, and you have a prescription for a paralyzing pessimism.
But even as he acknowledges the systemic obstacles that confront black men of all social strata, Ellis Cose refuses to accept them as reasons for giving up or giving in. In powerful and stirring prose, Cose rails against the historical worldview that has categorized academic achievement as a source of shame instead of pride in many black communities; he also outlines steps black males can take to enhance their odds for success.
With insightful anecdotes about a broad range of black men -- from Franklin Raines, the first black man to run a Fortune 500 company, to unlettered ex-prisoners -- Cose documents the amazing journey the black race has made, and contemplates the challenges ahead. Both a warning of the vast social tragedy that is wasted black potential and a vital call to arms that can enable black men to reclaim their destiny, The Envy of the World is an honest and important book for anyone concerned about the future of America.

About Ellis Cose

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Ellis Cose, former columnist and contributing editor for Newsweek magazine and former chairman of the editorial board and editorial page editor of the New York Daily News, began his journalism career as a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. Cose has been a contributor and press critic for Time magazine, president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Journalism Education, as well as chief writer on management and workplace issues for USA Today. Cose is a regular contributor on The Today Show, Nightline, Dateline, ABC Evening News, Good Morning America, the PBS "Time to Choose" election special, Charlie Rose, CNN's "Talk Back Live," and a variety of other nationally televised and local programs. He has received fellowships or individual grants from the Ford Foundation, The Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, among others, and has received numerous journalism awards including four National Association of Black Journalists first place awards. Cose is the author of Bone to Pick: On Forgiveness, Reconciliation, Reparation and Revenge, The Envy of the World, the bestselling The Rage of a Privileged Class, and several other books.
Published February 1, 2002 by Atria Books. 176 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, History. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Cose (The Best Defense, 1998, etc.) scatters in myriad places substantial blame for what he describes—in passionate and often painful prose—as the alarming circumstances of America’s black men.

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Publishers Weekly

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Examining a wide range of cultural artifacts, from William Foote Whyte's classic 1943 Street Corner Society to the 1999 movie Whiteboys, and never avoiding hard questions such as black-on-black crime or interracial sex, Cose charts both an urgently argued history of black masculinity and a movin...

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