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416 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1965
Throughout my childhood in Harlem, nothing was more strongly impressed upon me than the fact that you had to fight and that you should fight. Everybody would accept it if a person was scared to fight, but not if he was so scared that he didn’t fight.Thus the youngster fights, even though he’s afraid, and gains a reputation as a tough guy, way tougher than his age would warrant. So at the age of eleven he spends his first time in the Wiltwyck School for Boys (which does exist, in Esopus New York), where he makes new friends who then reenter his life back on the streets. As a young teen Sonny goes back and forth between Wiltwyck more than once.
As I saw it in my childhood, most of the cats I swung with were more afraid of not fighting than they were of fighting.