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March 3, 2021
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Books The QBR 100

The Spook Who Sat by the Door

the-spook-who-sat-by-the-door-bookAn explosive, award-winning novel in the Black literary tradition, The Spook Who Sat by the Door is both a satire of the civil rights problems in the United States in the late 1960s and a serious attempt to focus on the issue of black militancy.

Dan Freeman, the “spook who sat by the door,” is enlisted in the CIA’s elitist espionage program. Upon mastering agency tactics, however, he drops out to train young Chicago Blacks as “Freedom Fighters” in this explosive, award-winning novel. As a story of one man’s reaction to ruling-class hypocrisy, the book is autobiographical and personal. As a tale of a man’s reaction to oppression, it is universal.

Editorial Review: The Spook Who Sat by the Door

“The Spook Who Sat by the Door was originally brought into print by a small publisher, and quickly became an underground favorite. Published in the near aftermath of the Black Power movement, The Spook fictionalized the urban- based war for liberation that never quite manifested.

Senator Gilbert Hennington is in a close race for reelection and needs an issue with which to galvanize the Negro vote. His answer: a public call for the integration of the heretofore lily- white Central Intelligence Agency at its Field Operatives level. Of the hundreds who applied, twenty-three are chosen for training under express orders that no one successfully complete the course. With the exception of one, Dan Freeman, they are eliminated. Exasperated at Freeman’s tenacity, Calhoun, the agency’s judo instructor, tells him, “Im going to give you a chance. You just walk up to the head office and resign and that will be it. Otherwise, we fight until you do. And you will not leave this room until I have whipped you and you walk out of here, or crawl out of here, or are carried out of here and resign. Do I make myself clear?” Midway through the fight, Freeman wondered if he could keep from killing this white man. No, he thought, he’s not worth it…. But he does have an ass-kicking coming and he can’t handle it. This cat can’t believe a nigger can whip him. Well, he’ll believe it when I’m through. . .

Freeman is never assigned to the field, but is given a glass-enclosed office where he sits in the display. But he has a plan and soon resigns, returning to Chicago to organize the Cobras, a street gang, into an armed and skilled insurgency unit. On a hot Chicago night, a police killing sparks the riot that becomes the war led by Freeman and the Cobras, now dubbed Uncle Tom and the Freedom Fighters. Fast-paced, well written, entertaining, memorable.”--Sacred Fire: The QBR 100 Essential Black Books

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