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Here's my review:
I gave this SIX stars. I do believe it'll win book awards and maybe even the Pulitzer.
WARNING: the N word is used many, many times. It's appropriate in the book, as it's used. It's still disturbing.
And I admit, it bothers me when I hear descriptions like "man" which means white or caucasian males but when a black person is introduced it's "dark skinned" or "black man". To be fair, the white man, LA Police Det. John Skaggs is VERY white, with pale hair and his presence in Watts, a black neighborhood is very jarring, for those white citizens and in the writing of this book, an important contrast. And this is a real story, non-fiction, about racial issues; in this case, "a plague of murders among black men." Note this fact: 6% of the population is Black, yet they are 40% of those murdered.
Taking place in South LA County in the "midst of an unexceptional violence in the traditionally black neighborhoods", the writer tells the story of not only the victims but of those who found the bodies and try to solve the senseless killing, the cops and detectives.
The writer, a reporter, brings all the facts together for us, the Readers, illuminating the times of the culture, the events, the emotions of those who lost so much, and the attitudes of many of those people involved. She does this without showing her own feelings, leaving herself out of it. She doesn't tell us how to feel either. But anyone who has children, or lives in similarly troubled areas of the country, couldn't help but feel sympathetic for the victims and their families.
Well written, easy to read, not tending towards sensationalism, I believe this to be an important book. I hope it becomes part of a class curriculum somewhere. The more light shed on this great social problem, the better. A patient (us, our society) cannot heal until the disease ("a plague of murders, among black men") is acknowledged.
And yet, reading of these murders, and the ~scale of them was difficult for me. This problem is a cancer of our society; it must be cut out, must not be accepted, must not be written off as just "something black men do to each other." People have hardened themselves to not care about such things, to move past that article in the news. It's at the very least our moral responsibility to acknowledge the LOSS of these lives, regardless of our skiing color or where we live.
She writes a lot about the LAPD too. Their attitudes, problems, and social structure are as scrutinized as the murders.
Personally, having grown up in an earlier era (50s and 60s) but in similar circumstances, I can tell you that the "problem" isn't simply one of race -- its also one of economic and social dissonance. It's SO much more complicated than that!! The loss is extreme. And our society will feel this horrible loss, and a personal level. Having lost one brother to violence and the other to heroin, I know ~exactly how the folks in this book fee, how hard it is "to just cope after such violence".
As Mr Skaggs said "You and I are going to be serious and honest."
On pg 155, there are possible reasons behind the black on black violence. Also, on pg 158, read beginning with "for white people", for more in depth information.
Ghettoside was my first book from BOTM. I loved it. I, unlike some of you, read it fairly quickly. I couldn't put it down. I was so intrigued by all the facts and details and just how little I knew about what goes on in such places around the world. I think the author did a great job enlightening us on the unreported deaths of young men and just how hard some of those detectives and LAPD have to work to solve these horrendous cases. I found myself empathizing with the families in the book that had to endure the heartbreak and that of the detectives that had to break the news to those families who thought so poorly of them. I would definitely recommend this book.
I'm having a hard time getting into Ghettoside so far, as I feel a bit skeptical about the author's perspective and ability to represent the reality of life as an African American in this environment.
I got this book as an extra, but I really should have gotten it as my choice as I still haven't touched the book I chose first! This is an amazing read and I'm enjoying it very much. I just finished Part 1 and excited for Part 2. At first, it looked by the main subject would be about racism, but it's really only one part of this book. We get very deep into the workings of the LAPD and how it functions as well as how it interacts with communities especially those that are poor, rough, and have the most stigmas with it. We also get to know the citizens of the communities as well including some officers that live in those areas. The detectives and officers featured make very compelling characters that I want to cheer on through endless problems, red tape, and co-workers who really don't care as much as they do.
It took some time to read through the book as there is much detail, but it's not boring as the topics switch steadily after enough explanation. I'm looking forward to finishing and hope David Sedaris recommends another book for BOTM.
David Sedaris was 100% correct. I do thank him for recommending this book. While I found it to be a tough, long read, that is not a criticism. It just took longer than usual because of the exceptional attention to detail. The writing style of going back-and-forth between the individual cases and the legal/historical accounts helped to put the lives cut tragically short into the proper context. My view of inner city homicide, the police tasked with solving these cases, and the role that race plays will never be the same.
David Sedaris said I would think him and he is correct! I was tossed as to which book I wanted for my first Book of the Month Club read. I am so glad I went with Gettoside. I am not finished reading the book, but it has already opened my eyes to so much that I was not aware of happening. The statistics are frightening. While racism is spoken of, it does not dominate. I will try to post again when I have completed the book.
I'm greatly enjoying this book!
It brings up race by looking at the problems of "a plague of murders among black men" straight on. At first, I was a little worried about overt racism, to be honest...
But the writing is clear and easy to read, though the subject matter is difficult.
This is a very real problem in our country; it's not going away anytime soon. How our governments and cop shops handle the problem is very important.
I would love to see this book get a Pulizter, and/or be taught in colleges everywhere. I think the writer brings compassion to the lives of the families of the murdered black men.
Thanks, David Sedaris, for recommending this book.
I'll post my review here when I've finished.