Home Page About the Archive Introduction Enter Exhibit About John A. Williams link to register Credits
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Case Eight



At this time I was still one of Roger Straus's authors at Farrar, Straus and Cudahy. Roger tended to weld his authors together in a big family, which is the way I met James Purdy, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Susan Sontag, and Harry J. Anslinger, former Federal Commissioner of Narcotics. Anslinger wanted to do this book, but he couldn't write. I could, and I needed money, as usual. I'd never worked with any kind of cop before, but I found Harry to be very cooperative with his files and chats. He was also fun to be with, since he drank a good martini and told lots of stories. His bodyguard-chauffeur, however, didn't much like me. When Harry wasn't looking, he gave me those cop glances and grimaces. According to Harry, the old narcotics bureau was rather like the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Also, his was the first report I heard about cooperations between the Mafia and the government during WWII, when the feds sought help to prevent pilfering and sabotage on the New York and New Jersey docks.

scanned book jacket for the protectors

THE PROTECTORS, by Harry J. Anslinger with J. Dennis Gregory. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Cudahy (1964). First edition.

Williams used the pseudonym "J. Dennis Gregory" for this book.

scanned book jacket for white man listen

WRIGHT, Richard. White Man, Listen! Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books/Doubleday (1964).

Williams wrote the introduction for this edition in January 1964.



I never liked this title. It isn't mine. I could not think of a title for these Holiday magazine articles that became a book. (Actually, I wrote the book and then let Holiday take what it wished, since the magazine had commissioned me to do 30,000 words in the first place.) The back-to-back articles were published in the magazine in 1964; the book came out a year later. The pieces were like John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie, except, of course, these were from a black writer's point of view. I sent final copy in to the magazine while I was reporting from Africa. My editor, Harry Sions, applied the title without consultation. By the time I returned to the States, four months later, the pieces, together with the art, were already scheduled.

scanned magazine cover

"THIS IS MY COUNTRY TOO, PART I," in Holiday, Vol. 36, No. 2 (August 1964).

photo of magazine article

"THIS IS MY COUNTRY TOO, PART II," in Holiday, Vol. 36, No. 3 (September 1964).


Working for Holiday represented the good days and a lot of traveling, which I then enjoyed, because airports were not like Greyhound bus terminals, and the planes left and arrived on time.

scanned book jacket for this is my country too

THIS IS MY COUNTRY TOO. New York: New American Library (1966). First edition.

scanned book jacket for this is my country too

THIS IS MY COUNTRY TOO. New York: New American Library (1966). First paperback edition.