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(03/13/2015) The Spook Who Sat By The Door by Sam Greenlee. London. 1969. Allison & Busby. hardcover. 182 pages. 0850310032.

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   The CIA needs a Negro: there have been accusations of racial discrimination. So black Dan Freeman begins his lone career in an all-white world. Dan Freeman — tame, conspicuous, harmless. But behind this mask he coolly develops his subversive expertise in judo, guns, women, strategy.  Moving as easily among Washington’s power-hungry politicians as among the threatening street gangs of Chicago’s ghetto, Freeman plays the heroes of one world against the victims of the other. The top men in the CIA, hypocritical social workers, brainwashed policemen, a middle-class girlfriend, a beautiful whore, tough young junkies all have their place in Freeman’s lethally calculated program. He uses and manipulates all the opportunities and people around him. He is a man with a foot in both camps and a finger squeezing slowly on the trigger. There is no time for sentimentality. THE SPOOK WHO SAT BY THE DOOR is a book that had to be written. It describes an America that has gone beyond the stage of civil rights demonstrations and spontaneous riots: an America where the only hope for the black man is in deadly efficient guerrilla warfare. Sam Greenlee has written a novel about a revolution that may happen tomorrow.ABOUT THE AUTHOR - My name is Sam Greenlee. I am a black American and I write; not necessarily in that order of importance. I was born of a refugee family in Chicago, 13 July 1930, a second generation immigrant from the deep South. My father was a chauffeur, my mother a singer and dancer in the chorus line of the Regal Theater on Forty-seventh and South Parkway on the south side of Chicago. I received a non-education in Chicago ghetto non-schools and played catchup at three universities: Wisconsin, Chicago and Thessalonikki. I served for two years as an Infantry Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, in the 31st Infantry ‘Dixie’ Division. I was a professional propagandist in the foreign service of the United States Information Service. I served in Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and Greece, and was given the Meritorius Service Award for activities during the 1958 Kassem revolution in Baghdad. I have recently returned from four years of writing in Greece. I am employed, with fat salary and fancy title, by an otherwise white civil rights organization in Chicago. My job is to sit by the door.

 

Greenlee Sam   Samuel Eldred Greenlee, Jr. (July 13, 1930 – May 19, 2014) was an African-American writer, best known for his controversial novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, which was first published in London by Allison & Busby in March 1969 (having been rejected by dozens of mainstream publishers), and went on to be chosen as The Sunday Times Book of the Year. The novel was subsequently made into the 1973 movie of the same name, directed by Ivan Dixon and co-produced and written by Greenlee, that is now considered a "cult classic". Born in Chicago, Greenlee attended the University of Wisconsin (BS, political science, 1952) and the University of Chicago (1954-7). He was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity (Beta Omicron 1950). He served in the military (1952-4), earning the rank of first lieutenant, and subsequently worked for the United States Information Agency, serving in Iraq (in 1958 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for bravery during the Baghdad revolution), Pakistan, Indonesia, and Greece between 1957 and 1965. Leaving the United States foreign service after eight years, he stayed on in Greece. He undertook further study (1963-4) at the University of Thessaloniki, and lived for three years on the island of Mykonos, where he began to write his first novel. That was eventually published in 1969 as The Spook Who Sat by the Door, the story of a black man who is recruited as a CIA agent and having mastered the skills of a spy then uses them to lead a black guerrilla movement in the US. Greenlee co-wrote (with Mel Clay) the screenplay for the 1973 film The Spook Who Sat by the Door, which he also co-produced with director Ivan Dixon and which is considered "one of the more memorable and impassioned films that came out around the beginning of the notoriously polarizing blaxploitation era." In 2011, an independent documentary entitled Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door was filmed by Christine Acham and Clifford Ward, about the making and reception of the Spook film,  in which Greenlee spoke out about the suppression of the film soon after its release. In a chance meeting with Aubrey Lewis (1935–2001), one of the first Black FBI agents to have been recruited in 1962 by the FBI, Greenlee was told that The Spook Who Sat by the Door was required reading at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Other works by Greenlee include Baghdad Blues, a 1976 novel based on his experiences traveling in Iraq in the 1950s and witnessing the 1958 Iraqi revolution, Blues for an African Princess, a 1971 collection of poems, and Ammunition (poetry, 1975). In 1990 Greenlee won the Illinois poet laureate award. He also wrote short stories, plays (although he found no producer for any of them), and the screenplay for a film short called Lisa Trotter (2010), a story adapted from Aristophanes' Lysistrata. On May 19, 2014, Greenlee died in Chicago at the age of 83. On June 6, 2014, Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History sponsored an evening of celebration in his honor, attended by his daughter Natiki Montano.

 

 

 

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