Next book



A sinewy, stomach-twisting memoir that shows it takes more than a badge and gun to be a cop.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A Michigan police officer recounts 25 years of nabbing suspects and terrifying life-or-death moments.

Christensen has seen enough danger for many lifetimes. His gritty, often shocking memoir describes the hazards and heroics of being a cop in Lawrence and Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 1988 to 2012. Always eager for difficult assignments, Christensen worked the most violent inner-city neighborhoods. As if this wasn’t perilous enough, Christensen also served as a firefighter, EMT and an Army Reserve soldier, once volunteering to go to Afghanistan as a combat adviser. The book opens with a graphic account of how, as a young officer, Christensen was badly beaten by a drunk driver. Though he managed to knock the suspect unconscious with a last-ditch knee strike to the face, the incident spurred a lifelong desire to improve his battle readiness. This desire would serve him well as he confronted nightmarish situations—encountering bullet-ridden murder victims, managing enraged rioters near Western Michigan University, delivering a baby in a hotel laundry room. Christensen is a gifted storyteller with a penchant for grisly details worthy of a detective novel. Once while assisting at the scene of a fatal car crash, Christensen helped remove bodies from the wreckage: “We simply placed three gut piles into three separate body bags. The backseat passenger was literally scraped off the back seat with gloved hands. There was nothing to pick up. I just scooped up guts in my hands and flung them into the body bag.” Christensen states he doesn’t intend his story to be an instructional guide, but there is a significant teaching component to the book. He offers tips for fellow officers on topics ranging from traffic-stop safety to career planning. More importantly, civilian readers will gain a deeper understanding of what police officers face. The danger cannot be overstated—more than 4,200 officers died in the line of duty during the author’s career. Christensen writes candidly about the emotional and psychological aspects of the job. His personal revelations shatter more than one stereotype about law enforcement.

A sinewy, stomach-twisting memoir that shows it takes more than a badge and gun to be a cop.

Pub Date: May 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495301056

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

Next book


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Next book



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview