cover image From the Hood to the Hill: A Story of Overcoming

From the Hood to the Hill: A Story of Overcoming

Barry C. Black. Nelson Books, $22.99 (223pp) ISBN 978-0-7852-1881-4

The story of a boy's rise from the ghetto to become the first African-American Chaplain of the United States, Black's autobiographical self-help thrums with sincerity and deep faith. Growing up in Baltimore with little except the love of a strong mother, Black was surrounded ""by overwhelming poverty and discouragement and death-bound adults who were enslaved ... by alcohol and drugs."" A college student when he joined the Civil Rights movement, he was inspired by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to see pastors not as ""dealers in gossamer hopes and dreams... but drum majors for justice, truth and righteousness."" Deciding to become a minister himself, Black joins the U.S. Navy and eventually becomes Rear Admiral and Navy Chief of Chaplains, buoyed by his dedication to work and by ""being a good steward of time."" Committed to living and leading in a Godly manner, as well as to the art of inspiration-surprising people with love, diligence, optimism and moral courage-Black's narrative teaches and preaches as it takes readers through his career arc and into his day-to-day work, presenting the lessons he's gathered along the way. Though some lessons are less inspirational than others (engaging advice like ""To mobilize people, challenge them"" shares the page with ""Think outside the box""), Black's work is full of thoughtful advice, presented with intelligence and conviction.