Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Review by Jill Moore


(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1961)

I finished Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin on the morning of November 8, 2016. The day stands out because of the election and all of the information that swirled around it. As it turns out, it was a bad day for me. What I had read in a book published in 1961 was not so different from the news I was seeing in my Facebook feed. It has taken me more than a week to process my thoughts on that day and this book.

John Howard Griffin was born in Texas. He studied music and medicine in France and joined the French Resistance in 1939 at age 19, where he helped to transport Austrian Jews to safety in England. Griffin joined the Army and spent 1943-1944 as the only European-American (read: white guy) on Nuni, one of the Solomon Islands, where his assignment was to study the local culture. These two pieces of his personal history form the basis of his interest in and writings surrounding ethnology.