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Inviting and justifying comparisons with Hiroshima, this is Hersey's cauterizing exemplification of the ""most intransigent and fear ridden issue in American life"" via the Algiers Motel incident, the wanton murders of three alleged ""snipers"" and attendant sexual abuses by the police, during the Detroit riot. Many issues and many people are involved here and with as relentless a glate as the dome light on a police car, Hersey zeroes in on them. Among the former, beyond the specter of interracial sex at the ""very core"" of racism and the incident here, there's the primary question of unequal justice which the black populace faces, from the cop on the beat to the judge in the courtroom. As for the people--Hersey uses the transcripts (some official, some secured on interviews) of the families of the three dead boys, their associates including the go-go girls from Chicago who were victims of the ""skin show"" the law staged, police officers, officials, etc. In spite of the strident confusion which surrounded the entire incident which was literally triggered by some byplay with a starter pistol, it is all ineluctably evident--from police officer David Senak's ""I was overzealous"" to the mother of one of the victims who regretted the police's failure to notify her of the death of her son--""It's a hurting feeling."" There are many ""hurting feeling"" here which involve the reader, just as it has Hersey, and certainly there will be many who will be reached who might not be otherwise. The ""incident"" however has been handled in such a fashion that it provides all the sociodynamics of the racial thunderhead--an intense, intensive documentary.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1968
ISBN: 0801857775
Publisher: Knopf