A true-crime tale vividly portrays a Denver hidden by picturesque vistas of its snow-capped mountains.

THE HOLLY

FIVE BULLETS, ONE GUN, AND THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE AN AMERICAN NEIGHBORHOOD

Journalist Rubinstein tells the haunting story of a former gang member who tried to go straight and ran into a skein of political, philanthropic, and law enforcement interests.

When Ernestine Boyd, a grandchild of slaves, fled to Denver from the Jim Crow South, she became one of the first Black residents of the Northeast Park Hill part of the city, which included the Holly, a neighborhood that would earn a reputation as “the proud center of the city’s civil rights movement.” Decades later, Boyd’s grandson Terrance Roberts left his own mark on the Holly. He had found God and quit the Bloods while in prison; after his release, he founded an anti-gang nonprofit that led the mayor to name him “one of Denver’s 150 Unsung Heroes.” Roberts’ standing in the city began to unravel when, at a rally marking the opening of a Boys & Girls Club in the Holly, he shot a member of the Bloods who had credibly threatened him. In a multigenerational saga that builds toward a suspenseful courtroom drama centered on Roberts’ trial for assault and attempted murder, Rubinstein—who grew up and still resides in Denver—creates a historical palimpsest that sets its events against the backdrop of broad social and political changes, including the Crips’ and Bloods’ spread from Los Angeles to Denver; the Clinton administration’s decision to treat street gangs as “organized crime” groups; and the often clashing aims of politicians, philanthropists, and Black leaders. The author offers especially sharp and well-developed scrutiny of the use of active gang members as confidential police informants, but this important book is about more than dubious policing. A larger theme is how difficult it is for gang members to go straight while their former partners in crime still have the power to harm them, the problem a Denver activist chillingly summed up in a Chinese proverb: “He who mounts the tiger can never get off.”

A true-crime tale vividly portrays a Denver hidden by picturesque vistas of its snow-capped mountains.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-16891-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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A fiery, eloquent call to action for White men who want to be on the right side of history.

LETTERS TO MY WHITE MALE FRIENDS

A Black man speaks hard truths to White men about their failure to dismantle systemic racism.

A “child of the Black bourgeoisie,” journalist Ross first learned “the shadow history of Black revolutionary struggle” in college. He accepted that he “directly benefited from the struggle that generations of Black folks had died in the name of, yet I wasn’t doing anything to help those who hadn’t benefited.” The author calls the White men of his generation, Gen X, to also recognize their complicity and miseducation. “We were fed cherry-picked narratives that confirmed the worthlessness of Black life,” he writes, “The euphemistic ‘culture of poverty,’ not systemic oppression, was to blame for the conditions in which so many Black people lived.” The story that White people have been told about Black people is “missing a major chapter,” and Ross thoroughly elucidates that chapter with a sweeping deep dive into decades of American social history and politics that is at once personal, compelling, and damning. Through a series of well-crafted personal letters, the author advises White men to check their motivations and “interrogate the allegedly self-evident, ‘commonsense’ values and beliefs” that perpetuate inequality and allow them to remain blissfully unaware of the insidiousness of racism and the ways they benefit from it. Ross condemns the “pathological unwillingness to connect the past with the present” and boldly avoids the comfortable “both sides” rhetoric that makes anti-racism work more palatable to White people. “It is on you,” he writes, “to challenge the color-blind narratives your parents peddle.” The letters are consistently compelling, covering wide ground that includes the broken criminal justice system, gentrification, and the problem with framing equity work as “charity.” Finally, Ross offers practical guidance and solutions for White men to employ at work, in their communities, and within themselves. Pair this one with Emmanuel Acho’s Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man.

A fiery, eloquent call to action for White men who want to be on the right side of history.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-27683-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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