By Geoffrey Canada '74
This brutally honest account of a childhood in the Bronx is a personal history of violence in America and a hopeful plea for the salvation of our children caught in today's crossfire. Canada's childhood experiences influenced his sensitive understanding of violent attitudes born out of fear and self-preservation. What is perhaps most disturbing about the events Canada experienced is the degree to which all such occurrences (gang fights, weapon use, drug abuse) have increased in frequency and randomness, escalated in intensity, and been magnified by movies and media, which continue to promote heroes who succeed through brute force. Canada contends that we, particularly our children, are subjected to a kind of unstated death penalty as the odds of being shot and killed, not even being the target, have dramatically increased. Anyone living in urban America can relate to this book on some level, for we are all aware that our cities have become just as war torn and dangerous as any official battleground. Canada is willing not only to discuss this crisis, but to offer firsthand solutions by such examples as the Countee Cullen Community Center in Harlem, which provides unity, education, and safety for its neighboring community. This book should be necessary reading for all politicians and media personell and for every NRA member who thinks licensing handguns, getting "tough on crime," or "just saying no" is enough. For Canada, all such quick-fix solutions are temporary mortar for the ever-widening crack in America's foundation.
- Janet St. John, from Booklist