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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Suggested Reading: "The Savage City: Race, Murder, And A Generation On The Edge" by T.J. English (2011)

    The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the EdgeThe Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T.J. English

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    This is a story about, among other things, the policing of a city. Not just any city. New York City. And not the "safe big city" NYC is known as now. This is a tale of the city back when it had some grit and character - some swagger - and some really ugly, deep rooted problems that made men and ruined others, mostly determined on the color of their skin - this in a "progressive" city. This is a story of New York City politics and racial relations between those in power and the average citizen of color on the street of New York City between the late 1950's and 1970's - heavy stuff. T.J. English's latest, "Savage Streets: Race, Murder and a Generation On The Edge" eaxmines a time when racial issues between the then mostly white NYPD and the then increasingly Black and Hispanic populations of the city were at at boiling point.

    One man, some would call him uneducated and simple, leaves his home by a dump in Wildwood, New Jersey to look for a better life in early 60's era NYC. This man becomes the ultimate victim of a racist and corrupt pre-reform era NYPD through a set of circumstances he never could have imagined when he left home that day. Ultimately, he will lose years of his life to the legal system for a crime he was coerced into confessing to. This is his story.

    One man is on the beat...a New York City cop. He's also on the make. He's a dirty cop. He draws his weekly salary, but he's shaking down money all over town. And he's the kind of cop who put men like the simple man mentioned above away out of convenience when it suited him. This cop was not alone in his attitudes, he had an entire cadre of brothers who were in on the deal and felt the same way he did about those of other questionable racial backgrounds. He is a dirty cop who eventually gets caught - then - becomes one of the biggest turncoats in the history of the New York police department, singlehandedly putting large cracks in the "Blue Wall of Silence", testifying to the leveles of corruption and racial bias then so prevalent throughout the NYPD. This dirty cop would be the catalyst for some of the changes to come in the New York police department over the coming decades. This is his story.

    One man finds himself incarcerated, then freed. He is a smart man and is hyper-aware of the fact that change is coming to America and coming fast - a change in attitudes of racial relations. This man is inspired by others, powerful men with important things to say, to rise up and educate himself and to ascend to a postition of leadershp and great influence within one of the leading radical militant organizations in the city at that time. He is determined to help the struggle for racial equality in America by any...ANY...means necessary. This is his story.

    Three men with very different tales. New York was a different place then and "The Savage City" paints an amazingly clear picture of what those times could be like for members of the minority community. The book also shows how change came, eventually, slowly, painfully. "The Savage City" is a mind blowing document of a city and a time that to many readers born after 1970 or so will seem like a fiction. Sadly though, this story was the reality of the times in those days of the 1960's and 70's. Days that seem so long ago but when you get right down to it, they weren't that long ago at all.

    One of the best reads of 2011 and literery prize winner I have absolutely no doubt.

    And for those of you that may have missed it last week when we posted it, here is author T.J. English giving the details on the book in his own words:

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Suggested Reading: "The Savage City: Race, Murder, And A Generation On The Edge" by T.J. English (2011)

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