The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge

T. J. English, Author
T.J. English, Morrow, $27.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-06-182455-5
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 03/01/2011
Ebook - 528 pages - 978-0-06-207496-6
Paperback - 484 pages - 978-0-06-182458-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-202747-4
Book - 978-0-06-208383-8
Paperback - 474 pages - 978-1-84596-693-5
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Forget Vietnam—New York City in the 1960s and 1970s hosted its own civil war between a racist police force and a newly militant black underclass, according to this bare-knuckled true-crime saga. A journalist and ex-screenwriter for NYPD Blue and Homicide, English (Havana Nocturne) distills a decade of conflict into three iconic figures: George Whitmore, a black teen wrongly charged with the grisly "Career Girl Murders" on the basis of a coerced confession; Bill Phillips, a dirty cop whose testimony exposed ubiquitous police corruption; and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a Black Panther targeted by both law enforcement and rival comrades. English paints a vivid, gritty panorama of a city wracked by racial insurgency, showing us precinct house backrooms where black suspects are beaten and white perps let off with a bribe; seething ghettos ready to riot at the next police shooting; and mean streets where the cops themselves face machine-gun fire. The author's pulpy prose—"The Career Girls Murder story was like a good-looking whore"—and episodic subplots don't quite support his vision of urban apocalypse. Still, English gives us a gripping, noirish retrospective of an era when brutal misrule sparked desperate rage. Photos. (Mar.)
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