With a compassionate eloquence reminiscent of James Baldwin's Letter to My Nephew, Ellis Cose presents a realistic examination of the challenges facing black men in modern America. Black men have never had more opportunity for success than today -- yet, as bestselling author Cose puts it, "We are watching the largest group of black males in history stumbling through life with a ball and chain." Add to that the ravages of AIDS, murder, poverty, illiteracy, and the widening gap separating the black "elite" from the "underclass," and the result is a paralyzing pessimism. But even as Cose acknowledges the obstacles that confront black men, he refuses to accept them as reasons for giving up; instead he rails against the destructive attitude that has made academic achievement a source of shame instead of pride in many black communities -- and outlines steps black males can take to enhance their odds for success. With insightful anecdotes about a broad range of black men from all walks of life, Cose delivers a warning of the vast tragedy that is wasted black potential, and a call to arms that can enable black men to reclaim their destiny in America.