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MONEY ROCK

A FAMILY’S STORY OF COCAINE, RACE, AND AMBITION IN THE NEW SOUTH

A fascinating and hard-hitting story about drugs, crime, faith, and retribution.

The journalistic ordeal of a reformed felon and the legacy of the South.

Award-winning veteran journalist Kelley first encountered the saga of “Money Rock,” a young, convicted North Carolina cocaine dealer named Belton Platt, in 1986 when she covered his trial as a Charlotte Observer courthouse reporter. She visited him in prison to discover how a turf war between African-American drug dealers ended up in a bloody shootout. In this in-depth report, Kelley retraces the original 1985 episode from its roots, beginning in Charlotte’s Piedmont Courts public housing projects, where then-22-year-old Platt ruled supreme as a “skilled marketer” of cocaine, distributing free samples while maintaining a personal anti-drug stance. Aiming to wipe out the threat of his main competitor, Big Lou, Platt engaged in a shootout. Kelley expands her coverage even further by drawing from Platt’s familial history, including that of his mother, Carrie Graves, survivor of an abusive marriage and a political activist eager to “break the lock that white businessmen had on the city’s power structure.” The author also profiles the work of the prosecuting attorney in the Platt case. Kelley’s diligent exposé updates readers on both the Old and the New South versions of Charlotte’s history and explores issues of busing, racial segregation, and America’s cocaine culture at the time and how it ruled the streets of Charlotte. But the core of the narrative is Platt’s struggle to change his destiny after the second chance of a drastically shortened prison term, a relapse back into the drug trade, another crushing prison sentence, and, eventually, aided by belief and hope, a transformative epiphany: “Belton often cited his own transformation as proof that God could help anyone change.” The author’s debut encompasses many aspects of Platt’s plight and creates a unique, engrossing reading experience.

A fascinating and hard-hitting story about drugs, crime, faith, and retribution.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62097-327-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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