The four missing books of Lawrence Otis Graham

December 5, 2017

(This article was originally published at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, and syndicated at StatsBlogs.)

We keep some books in the bathroom that are good for reading in small bits. The other day I was flipping through The Best American Essays 1993 and came across the following passage that had originally appeared in New York Magazine:

I’m a thirty-year-old corporate lawyer at a midtown Manhattan firm, and I make $105,000 a year. I’m a graduate of Princeton University (1993) and Harvard Law School (1988), and I’ve written eleven nonfiction books.

This came from the second paragraph of an article by Lawrence Otis Graham, and my reaction was: Who writes eleven nonfiction books before the age of 30?

Nowadays we have google so I searched *Lawrence Otis Graham*. He has a twitter feed saying he’s a NYT bestselling author 14 books on race & class, and there’s a wikipedia page listing four books, of which the oldest is Member of The Club: Reflections on Life in a Polarized World, which is an expanded version of that magazine article quoted above, or maybe the magazine article was an excerpt from the book. But I still don’t know what those 11 previous books were. I searched Lawrence Otis Graham on Amazon but again found no books predating Member of The Club, also searched the Columbia University library, again no success. Further searching led me to this webpage from 2006 mentioning the 14 books but, again, none listed before 1995.

Then I tried a google search on *Lawrence Otis Graham books* and a few others came up: The Best Companies for Minorities (1993), Conquering College Life (1983), Youthtrends (1987), The Teenager’s Ask and Answer Book (1986; written jointly with his mother, with Graham as the teenager, so I assume the material had been collected a few years earlier), and Jobs in the Real World (1982), published when Graham was 19! I then searched Amazon for plain old Lawrence Graham and found something called “From Birth Harvrd” [sic] from 1984 which sounds like it could fit the pattern.

I wonder what the other four books are. It seems funny to go to the trouble of informing people you’ve written all these books, and then not even share the titles with them.

So, it seems that Graham wrote 10 books before the age of 30, then he wrote Member of The Club, then he wrote two more books (Proversity and Our Kind of People) between 1997 and 1999, one more (The Senator and the Socialite) in 2006, then nothing since. I guess he got tired of writing books.

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