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From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and to help us better understand one another.

Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the Internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned nineteen, he had become an elected politician with his own daily radio show—already regarded as the "the leading light" of the burgeoning white nationalist movement. "We can infiltrate," Derek once told a crowd of white nationalists. "We can take the country back."

Then he went to college. At New College of Florida, he continued to broadcast his radio show in secret each morning, living a double life until a classmate uncovered his identity and sent an email to the entire school. "Derek Black ... white supremacist, radio host ... New College student???" The ensuing uproar overtook one of the most liberal colleges in the country. Some students protested Derek''s presence on campus, forcing him to reconcile for the first time with the ugliness of his beliefs. Other students found the courage to reach out to him, including an Orthodox Jew who invited Derek to attend weekly Shabbat dinners. It was because of those dinners—and the wide-ranging relationships formed at that table—that Derek started to question the science, history, and prejudices behind his worldview. As white nationalism infiltrated the political mainstream, Derek decided to confront the damage he had done.

Rising Out of Hatred
tells the story of how white-supremacist ideas migrated from the far-right fringe to the White House through the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost. With great empathy and narrative verve, Eli Saslow asks what Derek Black''s story can tell us about America''s increasingly divided nature.

Review

Rising Out of Hatred is a disturbing look at the spread of that extremism — and how it is planted and cultivated in the fertile soil of American bigotry. And yet, Saslow’s vivid storytelling also conveys that during this period of deepening racial division, there is the possibility of redemption."
—Washington Post

“This is a double portrait: of a worse America, and of a better one. Neither of them has yet come to pass, but each of them might.  Thanks to reporting that is both truthful and humane, we see in one young man''s decision a guide to the choices that face a generation and a country." 
—Timothy Snyder, New York Times bestselling author of On Tyranny and The Road to Unfreedom

“The story of Derek Black is the human being at his gutsy, self-reflecting, revolutionary best, told by one of America’s best storytellers at his very best. Rising Out of Hatred proclaims if the successor to the white nationalist movement can forsake his ideological upbringing, can rebirth himself in antiracism, then we can too no matter the personal cost. This book is an inspiration.”
Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

"No one can match Eli Saslow''s skill at telling the most improbable, humane, and riveting tales of our time. Anyone despairing at the hate that has fueled so much of America''s politics ought to read this unforgettable story."
—Jane Mayer, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Money
 
"This is a beautiful and important book. I am a changed person for having read it. If my father were still alive, there would be no book I’d rather discuss with him than this. There are gorgeous, brilliant souls at work in this powerfully told story, and they are everything that’s right and promising about our future.”
—Elisha Wiesel, son of Elie and Marion Wiesel and chairman of the WVN Elie Wiesel Award

Rising Out of Hatred is an unforgettable story - fair, humane, unflinching, and brimming with insights about American racism and the white nationalist movement. Saslow has given us an instant classic of narrative writing and reporting.”
—Steve Coll, New York Times bestselling author of Directorate S. and Ghost Wars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

About the Author

Eli Saslow is a Washington Post staff writer and author of Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting in 2014 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2013, 2016 and 2017. He lives in Oregon with his wife and children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1. “The Great White Hope”

 

The Klansmen and neo-­Nazis arrived for their meeting in the fall of 2008 dressed in suits with aliases written on their name tags and began sneaking into the hotel just after dawn. They walked past the protesters waving rainbow flags on the sidewalk, past the extra state troopers stationed outside the hotel lobby, past the FBI informants hoping to infiltrate their way inside. For several days, the government of greater Memphis had been working to prevent this “white rights conference” from taking place. One suburb declared a state of emergency so it could hire additional police officers; another issued a temporary ban on all public gatherings. But by 7:00 on Saturday morning, about 150 of the world’s preeminent white nationalists had gathered inside a nondescript hotel conference room where a small sign hung on the wall.

 

“The fight to restore White America begins now,” it read.

 

The United States had elected its first black president just four days earlier, and already the Department of Homeland Security warned of a “significant spike in activity” on the white racist fringe. President-­elect Obama was receiving an average of thirty death threats each day. Gun sales had skyrocketed to historic levels, and by some reports far-­right militia groups had tripled their membership numbers during the last year. But the white uprising that concerned the Department of Homeland Security most of all was the one beginning now in Memphis, where acoustic guitar played through the speakers and sack lunches with turkey and swiss waited on a buffet table. “It’s the polite face of the racist movement that now has a chance to recruit new members and broaden in scope,” one DHS analyst said.

 

David Duke, the conference organizer, stepped behind a podium to welcome his guests. Duke, then fifty-­eight, had spent his life working to push the white supremacist movement from the radical fringes ever closer to the far conservative Right, rebranding himself from an Imperial Wizard of the Klan into a self-­described “racial realist” politician who nearly became governor of Louisiana in the early 1990s. He was two decades removed from the pinnacle of his international fame, and he’d tried to hold time in place by repackaging his old speeches into YouTube rants. He wore the tired look of a performer who’d stayed on tour too long, but he was still the public face of white nationalism. “The future of our movement is to become fully mainstream,” Duke told the crowd, so he’d reserved one of the conference’s keynote speeches for an up-­and-­coming white nationalist leader who represented that future.

 

“I’d like to introduce the leading light of our movement,” Duke said. “I don’t know anybody who has better gifts. He may have a much more extensive national and international career than I’ve had. Derek, can you come on up?”

 

Duke motioned to the corner of the room, where a nineteen-­year-­old community college student was hunched behind a laptop, running a live radio broadcast of the event for the online radio station he started himself.

 

“We are so privileged to be with you,” Duke said, before turning back to the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, here is Derek Black.”

 

The crowd began to applaud, and Derek stood from his computer with a slight wave and walked to the front of the room. Most of the white nationalists already knew him, because how could they not? He was at least a generation younger than almost everyone else, with shoulder-­length red hair and a large black cowboy hat that he wore in an effort to make himself more memorable. He’d grown up within the insular world of white nationalism, attending dozens of conferences just like this one. Already he’d built his own website for “white children of the globe,” visited more than half a million times. He’d launched a twenty-­four-­hour online radio network for white nationalists and won a local election as a Republican in Florida. He was not only a prodigy within the movement but also a product of it. His father, Don Black, led the Klan for nearly a decade and then created Stormfront, the internet’s first and largest white pride website. His mother, Chloe, had once been married to David Duke, and Duke acted as Derek’s mentor and godfather, sometimes referring to Derek as “the heir.”

 

No family had done more to help white nationalism bully its way back into mainstream politics, and Derek was the next step in that evolution. He was precocious, thoughtful, and polite, sometimes delivering handwritten thank-­you notes to conference volunteers. He never used racist slurs. He didn’t advocate for outright violence or breaking the law. His core beliefs were the same as those of most white nationalists: that America would be better off as a whites-­only country, and that all minorities should eventually be forced to leave. But instead of basing his public arguments on emotion or explicit prejudice, he spoke mostly about what he believed to be the facts of racial science, immigration, and a declining white middle class. Five evenings each week, he hosted an online radio show, often devoting the first half hour to innocuous stories about his favorite country musicians like Waylon Jennings, Alan Jackson, and Johnny Cash before turning the conversation to “the survival and continued dominance of the great white race,” he said. His goal, he explained once on the radio, was to “normalize these white nationalist ideas that already fit so neatly within the divides of modern society.”

 

“I’ve never lived in a country that I consider to be a white country,” he told the audience in Memphis. “I’ve never enjoyed this good golden bag of advantage that white people are supposed to have.”

 

He told the audience about his recent campaign to become a Republican committeeman in Palm Beach County, Florida, in which he had traveled door-­to-­door to meet with voters each afternoon after his community college German class. He seldom mentioned race in those conversations, and sometimes he barely spoke at all. Instead, he mostly listened as his white Republican neighbors told him about the reasons they felt their culture was under threat: the new highway signs in Spanish, urban crime, outsourced middle-­class jobs, a collapsing economy, and a societal insistence on political correctness. For the first time in history, less than half of all babies born in the United States were white, and Derek believed whites would inevitably begin voting more explicitly for their interests like a typical minority bloc. “Most white people don’t want to be called racists, but they do want to make sure their culture and their position in society isn’t going to be undermined,” Derek said on the radio. “People are just waiting for white candidates to come along who are brave enough to talk about these things, and when that happens, whites will go streaming to the polls.” Even though he had campaigned as a teenager with no job history, no college diploma, and zero political experience, Derek beat out a Cuban American incumbent and won the election with more than 60 percent of the vote.

 

“The way white people have to respond is through politics,” Derek told the crowd in Memphis. “Which way are the Republicans going to go? I’m kind of banking on them staking their claim as the White Party. We can infiltrate. We can take the country back.”

 

A few people in the audience started to clap, and then a few more began to whistle, and before long the whole group was applauding. “Our moment,” Derek said, because at least in this room everyone was in agreement. They believed the core tenets of white nationalism were about to drive a political revolution. They believed, at least for the moment, that Derek would help lead it.

 

“Years from now, we will look back on this,” he said. “The great intellectual move to save white people started today.”

 

The applause continued as Don Black, fifty-­five, stood from the rows of folding chairs and moved slowly toward the lectern to join his son onstage for the next session of the conference, an audience Q&A with white nationalist leaders. Don had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke a few months earlier, and now he walked with a hunch and leaned against a cane to steady his debilitated left side. He had long prided himself on being the embodiment of physical and emotional toughness—­what he called the “European ideal written into our genes.” He stood over six feet tall, with thick gray hair, a hard jawline, and blue eyes. He had once been the strongest weight lifter in the rec yard of a federal prison, but now the short walk to the lectern required intermittent breaks, until Derek stepped out and offered his hand.

 

Don had been leaning on his only child more than ever lately, relying on him for rides to white nationalist meetings and help managing the growing business of Stormfront, which crashed under the weight of a record 120,000 users on the night of Obama’s election to the presidency. Most of all, Don looked to Derek’s recent political achievements to lift himself from stretches of depression and fatigue that he’d endured since his stroke. He had tried to heal himself with physical therapy, experimental electrotherapies, and a dozen nutritional supplements, but none of it was as efficacious as monitoring Derek’s rising fame in the local newspaper and listening to him talk each night about “racial realities” on internet radio.

 

“I never thought it would feel so good to play second fiddle in my own house,” Don joked in Memphis as he and Derek took their places on the stage.

 

Sometimes, standing eye to eye with Derek, Don marveled at the young adult his son was becoming. “So perceptive. So insightful and committed in his beliefs,” Don said. At first those beliefs had come as a direct inheritance from Don. He sent six-­year-­old Derek out for Halloween dressed as a white Power Ranger, helped to decorate his childhood bedroom with a Confederate flag, and brought him to speeches where Don expressed doubt about the full severity of the Holocaust. Derek was socialized on Stormfront, and he began spending his nights in the private chat rooms as soon as he could type. After Derek finished third grade, Don and Chloe pulled him out of school, believing the public system in West Palm Beach was overwhelmed by an influx of Haitians and Hispanics. “It’s a shame how many white minds are wasted in that system,” Derek wrote then, at age ten, on his own children’s web page. “I am no longer attacked by gangs of non-­whites. I am learning pride in myself, my family and my people.”

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Top reviews from the United States

Skip Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A look under the hood of the alt-right
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2018
In many ways, this book mirrors my 10 year transition from a conservative, Rush listener to my rejection of the Republican Party and it''s slow, but steady decline to a party of negative, hate based ideology best exemplified by Trump and his enablers. I found it compelling.
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Isaiah Roby
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great writing for a complex issue
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2018
I got an ARC of this book. I have some very strong and hard to define feelings about this book. It was a wonderful read and it held my attention. It was well written, that is not even in question. My issues are more moral and personal than critiques of the... See more
I got an ARC of this book.

I have some very strong and hard to define feelings about this book. It was a wonderful read and it held my attention. It was well written, that is not even in question. My issues are more moral and personal than critiques of the writing or the content. The author was able to sort of deal with my issues, but my heart and my mind haven''t fully come around.

My two big issues were also issues for many of the people in the book too. What do you do when you are faced with someone like Derek Black and what do you do when you realize you did wrong?

What do you do when you encounter someone like Derek Black? He was not outright violent. He did not call for others to be violent. He had horrendously dangerous ideas and saw them as just debates/facts, not as the life altering things they were. He was logical and intelligent, so you couldn''t write him off as just dumb or crazy. He didn''t shove his views in your face, so if you weren''t careful then you could forget that he was HUGE in the white nationalist movement. How do you deal with that? Do you bring him in and try to change him? Do you fight him? Do you push him away? Everyone in the book had different views about this. There were students that brought him close and helped him realize he was wrong through kindness and connection. One of the the people closest to Derek Black actually had doubts about keeping him close because she felt it came from a position of privilege. She was able to because she was a white person. It really gave some complex looks at complex issues. Some of the students were about open revolt that Derek Black was on campus. If Derek Black were actively physically dangerous or calling for violence, then it would be a lot less complicated. However my feelings are still mixed because he was so powerful in the WN movement and you can still hear his words being echoed everywhere you turn.

What do you do when you realize you did wrong? This is where my main issue with the book was. How could I see Derek Black as anything  but a Nazi, someone my friends would cheer for me if I punched in the face? He was clearly a mover and shaker in the WN movement. He helped recruit children to the movement. He was the poster boy for WN. He is the one who gave them their current language. His father is the one who has thousands of them around him at all times due to his website. What about their very real connections to the KKK through the Grand Wizard family member? How could I overlook that? I think what kept me from being able to accept that Derek Black was changing is how vocal he was for WN, but how little he did to stop it when he renounced it. He was called out and told he had to speak out against the words he created and the movement he pretty much lead. Now that Derek Black is doing that, I am a bit more able to accept that he changed. However he still appears to have been more active in support than he is in opposition. It still hurts my heart and brain thinking about all of this.

The author was able to cover these complex emotions and ideas through not only Derek Black''s story, but through interviews with Derek''s father and Derek''s friends. This gave a more fleshed out picture of a very complicated transition. I am still torn and tormented by the thoughts in this book. Every reference to a WN text had me running to check to see if my local library had any. My library has a total of two. The larger of the two being in the history section as it is relevant to history and they other also has many counter argument books shelved next to it. I am sad to say there are even that many books in my library, but not surprised. When I worked in the Women''s Center on my pretty liberal college campus, even they had one of the books that Derek Black had read and believed. It was one of the first things that I learned in Intro to Psychology as being bad science and the book was named repeatedly throughout my psychology, sociology, and WGS courses as being inaccurate and just racist. Yet, this book was found and read by someone who used it to promote WN because it sounded legit. It is scary how quickly anything can be taken too far and how hard it is to change when presented with the truth.
148 people found this helpful
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William Capodanno
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Transformative
Reviewed in the United States on October 16, 2018
An amazing redemptive story that provides a small glimmer of hope in such dark times with the rise of hate and bigotry. "Rising Out of Hatred" is a modern day St. Paul on the Road to Damascus conversion tale of the white nationalist Derek Black, son of a KKK Grand Wizard... See more
An amazing redemptive story that provides a small glimmer of hope in such dark times with the rise of hate and bigotry. "Rising Out of Hatred" is a modern day St. Paul on the Road to Damascus conversion tale of the white nationalist Derek Black, son of a KKK Grand Wizard and godson of David Duke. Unlike St. Paul, Black''s conversion was years in the making starting when he enrolled in a small liberal arts college in Florida.

The story of Derek Black''s conversion is so effective because it is told by a third party who did impeccable research from first party interviews to having access to plenty of source material (text, emails, etc). There is a lens of objectivity that shines through from Saslow''s narrative that would have been nearly impossible if this was written by Black himself. This is not an overnight conversion, but a hard struggle to undo years of one''s mind being warped by hate, intolerance and lies. We see the struggle of Black to overcome such indoctrination as well as the bonds of family and the power of others who question their own role in trying to help Black, unsure of whether this is right to who they are and whether someone can overcome such hate.

I found myself transfixed by this story, particularly Allison, her strength and perseverance to see something redemptive in Black to devote so much of herself to him. During a time when it can be hard to see hope from the anger, hate and rage fueling so many, this provides a glimmer of hope that there is a path to love and respect for others unlike us that is possible. The road out of hatred is not easy, but it is possible.
54 people found this helpful
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Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
HOW WHITE SUPREMACISTS LEARNED TO LOVE TRUMP
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2018
This is not a book of hate. It is an honest and intimate revelation of who the leaders of the white supremacists are, what they believe and why Donald Trump was elected by their support. It is the effort by of one of the three of the most prominent leaders in the white... See more
This is not a book of hate. It is an honest and intimate revelation of who the leaders of the white supremacists are, what they believe and why Donald Trump was elected by their support. It is the effort by of one of the three of the most prominent leaders in the white nationalist movement, Derick Black, a reformed racist, and heir to the leadership of Stormfront, to warn the country about the racist agenda of the Trump administration. It is Derick Black’s way of making amends for the harm that he has caused by preaching racism for nearly two decades. Dylan Roof was a member of Black’s Stormfront and was acting upon the ideas he learned from Derick on Stormfront when he shot and killed nine blacks in church. Derick lives with that. Agreeing to do this book is part of his restitution to us.
37 people found this helpful
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Wesley
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I couldn''t put it down
Reviewed in the United States on September 22, 2018
No seriously, I picked it up and then realized I had finished the entire thing. A really amazing, transformative read.
40 people found this helpful
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K. Childs
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disturbing, amazing, hopeful.
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2018
I was completely gripped by this book. It told a story of what a complex journey it is to transition out of an extremist ideology. It was very disturbing to realize the deliberate efforts of White Nationalists to work their message into mainstream politics, and to see that... See more
I was completely gripped by this book. It told a story of what a complex journey it is to transition out of an extremist ideology. It was very disturbing to realize the deliberate efforts of White Nationalists to work their message into mainstream politics, and to see that it has worked. It was amazing to follow the very complex process that was needed to wake Derek up from the worldview that he had been fed from birth to an opposite view. I''m very grateful that he is willing to tell his story. And though the book left me feeling overwhelmed, because there is still a long way to go to untangle this mess, it also left me hopeful, because the process that worked for one person, Derek, can also eventually work for society at large. One idea and experience at a time can eventually add up to a shift. And now I feel more informed to look for those times when disguised WN comes up, and more equipped to respond.
20 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting to understand the viewpoint from the inside of the movement
Reviewed in the United States on September 29, 2018
Derek Black is most impressive man. His slow transformation from a major leader of the white nationalist leader to non believer is fascinating. As a member of one of the "minority" groups that the white nationalists dislike so much, it was important to understand why they... See more
Derek Black is most impressive man. His slow transformation from a major leader of the white nationalist leader to non believer is fascinating. As a member of one of the "minority" groups that the white nationalists dislike so much, it was important to understand why they hate me so much. I came away understanding so much more then I did before I did before I read his story. An interesting read, although I don''t and can''t equate Derek Black with the common run of the mill skin head that I attach to the neo Nazi skin heads I normally associate with the movement.
13 people found this helpful
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TonksGrrl
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well written story of change
Reviewed in the United States on October 10, 2018
My professional background is in community behavioral health. I see change all the time even when people worry they will "never" change. And having worked with people who had identified themselves with a hate group when they entered treatment and left as a kinder gentler... See more
My professional background is in community behavioral health. I see change all the time even when people worry they will "never" change. And having worked with people who had identified themselves with a hate group when they entered treatment and left as a kinder gentler soul was one of the things that drew me to this book. That being said the topic of WN is a difficult one for me to willingly want to sit through. I had to read the book a chapter at a time to get through it most of the time. I commend the author for being able to write this, RDB for his change, for getting out of the insular world of hate and moving forward to make this world a better place. This book is timely and I feel, it is one of the books that MUST be read by all. Hate has no place in our world.
10 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

nchamp
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Eye opening and very scary
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 8, 2019
Well done Derek!! And well done Eli for telling the story so well. A must read for all people in my opinion.
Well done Derek!! And well done Eli for telling the story so well.
A must read for all people in my opinion.
2 people found this helpful
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Cheval13
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A good and important read
Reviewed in Germany on December 26, 2018
It’s a bit difficult to summarize how I feel about this book which (like others have written, I could barely put down-even during the busy Christmas time). Part of it scares me, because it’s made clear to me just how established racism is in thought and politics in this...See more
It’s a bit difficult to summarize how I feel about this book which (like others have written, I could barely put down-even during the busy Christmas time). Part of it scares me, because it’s made clear to me just how established racism is in thought and politics in this country, and how just how bad the issues in the US are to allow the current president to arrive as a symptom of these racist divides. But the book also gives me hope, because beyond providing me with the tools of articulating arguments against the people in my own life who are no where near logging onto Stormfront or anything, but will still tolerate those that do, Derek’s personal journey shows what the power of informed, rational discussions (and I guess it’s true there must be plural) can accomplish. Thank you to Derek for the courage to share his story and to Eli Saslow for the professional and engaging telling of it.
It’s a bit difficult to summarize how I feel about this book which (like others have written, I could barely put down-even during the busy Christmas time). Part of it scares me, because it’s made clear to me just how established racism is in thought and politics in this country, and how just how bad the issues in the US are to allow the current president to arrive as a symptom of these racist divides. But the book also gives me hope, because beyond providing me with the tools of articulating arguments against the people in my own life who are no where near logging onto Stormfront or anything, but will still tolerate those that do, Derek’s personal journey shows what the power of informed, rational discussions (and I guess it’s true there must be plural) can accomplish. Thank you to Derek for the courage to share his story and to Eli Saslow for the professional and engaging telling of it.
One person found this helpful
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zhenja
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My favourite book this year
Reviewed in Germany on December 5, 2019
I love how this book manages to tell the story of Derek Black, his family and friends without judging their choices. While it shows the struggle of Derek, it also makes clear why or how people develop racist views and how rasicst language has made it''s way back into...See more
I love how this book manages to tell the story of Derek Black, his family and friends without judging their choices. While it shows the struggle of Derek, it also makes clear why or how people develop racist views and how rasicst language has made it''s way back into everyday politics.
I love how this book manages to tell the story of Derek Black, his family and friends without judging their choices. While it shows the struggle of Derek, it also makes clear why or how people develop racist views and how rasicst language has made it''s way back into everyday politics.
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Crone
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Amazing
Reviewed in Italy on January 23, 2021
This book was exactly what I needed to read. Eye opening on so many levels, it sure gave me something to think about.
This book was exactly what I needed to read. Eye opening on so many levels, it sure gave me something to think about.
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Rocio
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Muy buen libro
Reviewed in Spain on December 28, 2018
Es impresionante! Si él pudo salir del movimiento racista no hay excusa para ser racista!
Es impresionante! Si él pudo salir del movimiento racista no hay excusa para ser racista!
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