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WE OWN THIS CITY

A TRUE STORY OF CRIME, COPS, AND CORRUPTION

A harrowing study in true crime, most of it committed by men with badges.

When police officers are the criminals, they serve and protect themselves.

When Freddie Gray died while in Baltimore Police custody in 2015, protests broke out in the streets, and Baltimore Sun crime reporter Fenton—who shared a Pulitzer for coverage of the events—was on the scene. Strangely, he fell under the protection of both Crips and Bloods, who worked under a truce that overlooked red and blue gang garb and instead focused on the Black of the victim. Certainly, according to the author’s tenacious reporting, the Baltimore officers focused on Blackness, in a very negative way: Their Gun Trace Task Force broke into homes without warrants, searched Black people without probable cause, stole guns and money, and sold confiscated drugs. “While the police department leadership begged citizens to cooperate,” writes Fenton, “some of its elite officers were running roughshod on Black men in poor neighborhoods, creating a free-fire zone for anyone seeking to exploit them.” The worst of the bunch was a sergeant who devolved from model Marine to utterly corrupt cop. He partnered with a cocaine dealer to identify other dealers, seize their wares, and sell them; reportedly, that sergeant had squirreled away at least half a million dollars, having done things like broken into a dealer’s car and “stolen between $12,000 and $19,000.” Before getting greedy, a core group of officers—most now serving prison terms thanks to an FBI investigation that Fenton tracks almost in real time—preferred to skim money off the top during seizures. Meanwhile, the GTTF was lauded for its results, which were murky at best. “Despite police and prosecutors’ stated priority of holding people caught carrying guns accountable,” writes the author, “officials would later acknowledge that no one was circling back to check or improve the outcomes.” Fenton’s fast-paced narrative, perfect for fans of The Wire, delivers a satisfying resolution, though it remains to be seen whether the department will truly clean up under new management, for which readers must stay tuned.

A harrowing study in true crime, most of it committed by men with badges.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13366-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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    Best Books Of 2017


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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