Daydreams and Nightmares
Reflections of a Harlem Childhood
This is the hard-edged true story of the making of a renowned sociologist. It is even more the story of a boy hustling to survive. A single playlet in the larger drama of American transformation, this candid memoir recounts the intensely personal story of a tormented youth spent in a ghetto within a ghetto: a small remnant community of Eastern European Jewish immigrants residing in predominantly black Harlem, eking out a marginal existence. The painful details of a boy's overcoming alienation and isolation in a hostile place and in an unloving family are finely drawn. This fascinating but sad memoir is somehow astonishingly uplifting: the sense of strength, self-reliance, and a life formed from movie houses, the Apollo Theater in its heyday, the Polo Grounds, Central Park, and the streets of Harlem is a lesson in the resilience of both the individual and America.
“Irving Louis Horowitz has given us a powerful portrait of the shaping of raw materials to the make of an adolescent . . . [T]his is a hard-edged personal history . . . The memoir is sentimental without being sentimentalized; it is touching without being treacly.”
—Raymond W. Mack, Social Forces