Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy

Ghettoside by Jill Leovy
First published in America by Spiegel And Grau in January 2015.

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

366 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 3494.

Where to buy this book:



Amazon UK

Amazon US




The Book Depository



How I got this book:
Received from a Penguin ThinkSmarter giveaway

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on the best part of a decade embedded with the homicide units of the LAPD, this groundbreaking work of reportage takes us onto the streets, inside the homes and into the lives of a community wracked by a homicide epidemic.
Through the gripping story of one particular murder – of an eighteen-year-old boy named Bryant Tennelle, gunned down one evening in spring for no apparent reason – and of its investigation by a brilliant, ferociously driven detective – a blond, surfer-turned-cop named John Skaggs – it reveals the true origins of such violence, explodes the myths surrounding policing and race and shows that the only way to reverse the cycle of violence is with justice.

I was impressed with this thoughtful and thought-provoking reportage exploring the wider social issues surrounding the disproportionately high murder rates for black people, especially black men, in America. Compared to Europe, the country seems particularly violent across all its communities regardless of race, but Leovy concentrates her attentions on the Watts district of south Los Angeles in California - a ridiculously dangerous place even by American standards. Her investigation and conclusions are fascinating to read. Incorporating both the historical exclusion of black people from legal recourse in America and the present-day situation that frequently still echoes that negligence, she uses the murder of policeman's son Bryant Tennelle as a focal point around which to expound her theories.

There is frustrating repetition in Ghettoside, but also a strong narrative with heartbreaking lists of names and statistics of ignored murder victims that at times became emotionally difficult to continue with. Leovy effectively introduces real people - detectives, victims, families - without becoming overly sentimental. Reading Ghettoside in the immediate wake of the Charlottesville protests this month I could easily see for myself the attitude of mainstream America, described by Leovy, and understand at least how the disaster of Watts and other similar inner-city communities has been allowed to develop and continue, if not why. This is a shocking book for its content rather than its attitude and one that I think should be widely read for its insights into estranged communities wherever they might be.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Jill Leovy / Reportage / Books from America

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