*Winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Biography and Autobiography

This is the story of the making of a world-famous sociologist. It is even more the story of a boy hustling to survive. Here in an astonishing and candidly written memoir by one of America's premier social scientists recounting the intensely personal story of his tormented youth in a ghetto within a ghetto. It etches the painful details of a boy's overcoming alienation and isolation in a hostile place in an unloving family.

In the 1930s a small remnant community of Eastern European Jewish immigrants still resided in predominantly black Harlem. As shopkeepers trying to make out a marginal existence, Harlem's Jews were a minority within a minority. Into this restricted world the author of this book was born. Irving Louis Horowitz's parents had fled Russia, his father the victim of persecution in the Tsarist army during World War I. The boy's schoolmates were the children of black sharecroppers who had immigrated to the North. Poverty, language, and culture all cut off the Horowitz family from traditional community life, and the stress of a survival existence led to the trauma of a deteriorating family unit.

Harlem and its environs, the Apollo and the Alhambra theaters, the Polo Grounds, and Central Park were the stage on which a youngster from this ghetto built a kind of self-reliance at the cost of social graces. The recipient of the National Jewish Book Award for Biography and Autobiography, this new, augmented edition contains the author's reflection of the impact of the Great Depression on Harlem family life.

chapter 1|9 pages

The Metropolitan and Sydenham

chapter 2|4 pages

Black Christmas

chapter 3|3 pages

To a Wild Rose

chapter 4|4 pages

Central Park

chapter 5|5 pages

Tom Mix

chapter 6|6 pages

The Polo Grounds

chapter 7|6 pages


chapter 8|7 pages


chapter 9|7 pages

The Jewish Family as a Company of Players

chapter 10|7 pages

Becoming Self-Reliant

chapter 11|4 pages

A Child’s Vision of the Great Depression

chapter 12|9 pages

Children’s Secrets

chapter 14|6 pages


chapter 15|7 pages

Movin’ on Up

chapter 16|3 pages


chapter 17|16 pages

Picture-Taking Days