O’Connor sets forth a careful, well-constructed argument. Whether it changes minds one way or the other remains to be seen,...

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THE FRAMING OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

The title says it all: Longtime investigative reporter and Crime Magazine editor and publisher O’Connor argues that the best-known death-row inmate of our time was set up.

An advocacy journalist well regarded in Philadelphia and beyond for his interviewing skills, perhaps destined for fame as a news anchor or writer, Mumia Abu-Jamal “had never been known for violence.” Indeed, writes O’Connor, he had been a peace activist while a student at ultraliberal Goddard College and was seemingly on the path to becoming a Rastafarian ascetic when he was charged with the December 9, 1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal admittedly carried a gun; a part-time cab driver since being fired from a public radio station for his unscripted political commentary, Mumia had twice been robbed and was concerned for his safety. Connected by several threads to the “back-to-nature group MOVE,” which had drawn the ire and bullets of Philadelphia police during the Frank Rizzo years, Abu-Jamal was framed, perhaps to keep him from looking too deeply into police counterintelligence operations. The police investigation was incomplete, confused and much-revised, and the forensics were improbable: Detained, Abu-Jamal was supposed to have been on the ground below Faulkner, but the first bullet to strike hit the officer in the back. Moreover, writes O’Connor, “It would not come out until trial that the police had not bothered to run any tests of Abu-Jamal’s hands or clothing to determine if he had fired a gun or even if [his] .38 had been fired.” Such tests being commonplace at shooting scenes, O’Connor advances the view that the results did not fit the setup and were discarded. Compounding all this, O’Connor then enumerates, was flawed physical evidence, a biased judge, perjured testimony and a district attorney known as the “ ‘Queen of Death’ because of her zeal for seeking the death penalty,” particularly for black capital offenders.

O’Connor sets forth a careful, well-constructed argument. Whether it changes minds one way or the other remains to be seen, but, he urges, it is time for a new trial.

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-55652-744-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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