What I Know For Sure

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What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America
What I Know For Sure.jpg
Author Tavis Smiley
Country United States
Language English
ISBN 0-385-50516-7

What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America is a best-selling[1] memoir by African-American journalist Tavis Smiley and co-written with David Ritz.[2] The authors published it through Doubleday on October 10, 2006.


Smiley discusses his difficult childhood—being the oldest in a poverty-stricken family of 13 with a deeply religious Pentecostal mother and a father who beat him. He goes on to achieve a long career in journalism.[2]


Co-writer David Ritz in 2008

Writing website Curled Up With A Good Book praised the book, with reviewer Jilian Vallade stating that "Smiley’s story is told in a clear, easy-to-read style that is at once compelling and inviting." Vallade also commented that Smiley's "ability to overcome his childhood experiences and achieve success makes him an excellent role model in these times when there are so few."[2]

The New York Times published a mostly positive review by journalist Lawrence Downes. He called the book "an entirely plausible, unwittingly honest portrait of a natural-born talk-show host, and how he got that way". He praised Smiley's frankness about his past, but Downs also remarked that Smiley "approached the project with a disturbingly easygoing attitude toward quotation marks" so that details could be called into question.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (December 20, 2010). "For Tavis Smiley, a New Home on PBS". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2011. Mr. Smiley, who is also the host of two public radio programs and the author of best-selling books, including “What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America,” 
  2. ^ a b c Vallade, Jilian (2008). "Book Review: Tavis Smiley's "What I Know For Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America"". Curled Up With A Good Book. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ Lawrence Downes (February 18, 2007). "A Way With Words". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 

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