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Ghettoside

Cover of Ghettoside

Ghettoside

A True Story of Murder in America
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, USA TODAY, AND CHICAGO TRIBUNEA masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America

NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review
  • The Washington Post
  • The Boston Globe The Economist
  • The Globe and Mail BookPage Kirkus Reviews
    On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
    But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
    Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder—a "ghettoside" killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities—and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.
    Praise for Ghettoside
    "A serious and kaleidoscopic achievement . . . [Jill Leovy is] a crisp writer with a crisp mind and the ability to boil entire skies of information into hard journalistic rain."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
    "Masterful . . . gritty reporting that matches the police work behind it."Los Angeles Times
    "Moving and engrossing."San Francisco Chronicle
    "Penetrating and heartbreaking . . . Ghettoside points out how relatively little America has cared even as recently as the last decade about the value of young black men's lives."USA Today
    "Functions both as a snappy police procedural and—more significantly—as a searing indictment of legal neglect . . . Leovy's powerful testimony demands respectful attention."The Boston Globe
    "Gritty, heart-wrenching . . . Everyone needs to read this book."—Michael Connelly
    "Ghettoside is remarkable: a deep anatomy of lawlessness."—Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal

    "[Leovy writes] with grace and artistry, and controlled—but bone-deep—outrage in her new book. . . . The most important book about urban violence in a generation."The Washington Post
    "Riveting . . . This timely book could not be more important."—Associated Press

    "Leovy's relentless reporting has produced a book packed with valuable, hard-won insights—and it serves as a crucial, 366-page reminder that 'black lives matter.' "The New York Times Book Review
    "A compelling analysis of the factors behind the epidemic of black-on-black homicide . . . an important book, which deserves a wide audience."—Hari Kunzru, The Guardian
    From the Hardcover edition.
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, USA TODAY, AND CHICAGO TRIBUNEA masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America

    NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review
  • The Washington Post
  • The Boston Globe The Economist
  • The Globe and Mail BookPage Kirkus Reviews
    On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home, one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
    But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
    Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential, but mostly ignored, American murder—a "ghettoside" killing, one young black man slaying another—and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities—and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.
    Praise for Ghettoside
    "A serious and kaleidoscopic achievement . . . [Jill Leovy is] a crisp writer with a crisp mind and the ability to boil entire skies of information into hard journalistic rain."—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
    "Masterful . . . gritty reporting that matches the police work behind it."Los Angeles Times
    "Moving and engrossing."San Francisco Chronicle
    "Penetrating and heartbreaking . . . Ghettoside points out how relatively little America has cared even as recently as the last decade about the value of young black men's lives."USA Today
    "Functions both as a snappy police procedural and—more significantly—as a searing indictment of legal neglect . . . Leovy's powerful testimony demands respectful attention."The Boston Globe
    "Gritty, heart-wrenching . . . Everyone needs to read this book."—Michael Connelly
    "Ghettoside is remarkable: a deep anatomy of lawlessness."—Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal

    "[Leovy writes] with grace and artistry, and controlled—but bone-deep—outrage in her new book. . . . The most important book about urban violence in a generation."The Washington Post
    "Riveting . . . This timely book could not be more important."—Associated Press

    "Leovy's relentless reporting has produced a book packed with valuable, hard-won insights—and it serves as a crucial, 366-page reminder that 'black lives matter.' "The New York Times Book Review
    "A compelling analysis of the factors behind the epidemic of black-on-black homicide . . . an important book, which deserves a wide audience."—Hari Kunzru, The Guardian
    From the Hardcover edition.
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    • From the cover 1

      A Killing

      It was a warm Friday evening in Los Angeles, about a month before Dovon Harris was murdered.

      Sea breezes rattle the dry palm trees in this part of town. It was about 6:15 p.m., a time when homeowners turn on sprinklers, filling the air with a watery hiss. The springtime sun had not yet set; it hovered about 30 degrees above the horizon, a white dime-­sized disk in a blinding sky.

      Two young black men walked down West Eightieth Street at the western edge of the Los Angeles Police Department's Seventy-­seventh Street precinct area, a few miles away from where Dovon Harris lived. One was tall with light brown skin, the other shorter, slight and dark.

      The shorter of the two young men, Walter Lee Bridges, was in his late teens. He was wiry and fit. His neck was tattooed and his face wore the mournful, jumpy look common to young men in South Central who have known danger. His low walk and light build suggested he could move like lightning if he had to.

      His companion, wearing a baseball cap and pushing a bicycle, appeared more relaxed, more oblivious. Bryant Tennelle was eighteen years old. He was tall and slim, with a smooth caramel complexion and what was called "good hair," smooth and wavy. His eyes tilted down a little at the corners, giving his face a gentle puppy look. The two young men were neighbors who whiled away hours together tinkering with bicycles.

      They were strolling on the south side of Eightieth. Bryant carried in one hand an unopened A&W root beer he had just bought. Thirties-­era Spanish-­style houses—­updated with vinyl windows—­lined the street, set back a few feet from the sidewalk. Each had a tiny lawn mowed so short it seemed to blend with the pavement. Buses roared by on Western Avenue. Crows squawked and planes whistled overhead as they descended into Los Angeles International Airport, so close you could read the logos on their tails. Groups of teenagers loitered at each end of the street. An elegant magnolia loomed near the end of the block, and across the street hunched a thick overgrown Modesto ash.

      The ash tree stood in front of a tidy corner house. Behind that house, in the backyard on the other side of the fence, a man named Calvin Abbot was cleaning out a tile cutter. He had just retiled his mother's bathroom.

      Walter and Bryant were taking their time walking down Eightieth, chatting, their long shadows stretching behind them. They walked in sunshine, though dusk engulfed the other side of the street. Three friends emerged from a house at the end of the block behind them and called out a greeting. Walter stopped and turned to yell something back. Bryant kept walking toward the ash. A black Chevrolet Suburban pulled up to the curb around the corner, on the cross street, St. Andrews. A door opened and a young man jumped out. He pulled on gloves, ran a few steps, and halted under the tree, holding a gloved hand straight out gripping a firearm. Pap. Pap-­pap.

      Walter reacted instantly. He saw the muzzle flashes, saw the gunman—­white T-shirt, dark complexion, gloves—­even as he sprinted. Calvin Abbot, toiling with his tile cutter behind the fence, couldn't see the shooter. But he heard the blasts and dropped instinctively. Abbot, forty, had grown up a black man in South Central and had the same battle-­ready reflexes as Walter. He lay flat on the ground as gunfire boomed in his ears.

      Bryant's reflexes were slower. Or perhaps it was because he was looking straight into the setting sun. To him, the gunman was a dark silhouette. Bryant staggered, then reeled and fell on a patch of lawn overhung by a...
    About the Author-
    • Jill Leovy is an award-winning reporter and editor for the Los Angeles Times.
    Reviews-
    • AudioFile Magazine There may be no more tragic story in America than the prevalence of black-on-black violence and the public dismissal of it as unimportant. Narrator Rebecca Lowman takes a low-key approach, and it works perfectly; this audiobook is so dramatic and sad that it doesn't need any amping up. Jill Leovy hangs her exploration of the South Central district of Los Angeles on the death of teenager Bryant Tennelle, the son of a police detective with no gang connections, and the efforts of Detective John Skaggs to solve that murder. Lowman convincingly renders the decency and drive of Skaggs, who is white and who lives in the area, has an unbelievable work ethic, and believes justice is the key to prevention. The litany of death is depressing, but there's some comfort in learning that there are heroes on the side of angels. A.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2016 Audies Finalist © AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
    • Martin Amis
      "Ghettoside is fantastic. It does what the best narrative nonfiction does: It transcends its subject by taking one person's journey and making it all our journeys. That's what makes this not just a gritty, heart-wrenching, and telling book, but an important one. From the patrol cop to the president, everyone needs to read this book."--Michael Connelly

      "Jill Leovy writes with exceptional sharpness and tautness, and her pages glow and glitter with the found poetry of the street. This book will take an honored place on the shelf that includes David Simon's classic Homicide and Michelle Alexander's explosive study of mass incarceration, The New Jim Crow."
    • Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee "A gripping and powerful account of urban homicide investigation in the United States."--Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize--winning author of Devil in the Grove

      "Unmissable . . . I'm astonished by Jill Leovy's forthcoming Ghettoside. Police and race in America are examined with forensic skill and furious, exceptional prose. Lucid, revelatory, superbly written, incredibly timely. A book of the year."
    • Matt Taibbi, author of The Divide
      "Ghettoside is a brilliant taxonomic investigation into the American violence epidemic disguised as a highly entertaining true crime book."
    • Dan Baum, author of Nine Lives
      "A thoroughly engrossing true-life policier full of vivid and sympathetic characters, but also the bravest book about race and crime I've ever read."
    • Paul French, author of Midnight in Peking
      "What an amazing book--a totally gripping piece of reporting."
    • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Absorbing . . . Readers may come for Leovy's detective story; they will stay for her lucid social critique."
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