Crown Heights: Blacks, Jews, and the 1991 Brooklyn Riot

Edward S. Shapiro, Author . Univ. Press of New England/Brandeis Univ. $29.95 (252p) ISBN 978-1-58465-561-9

Perhaps no single event shook the notion of a black-Jewish alliance like the 1991 unrest in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which began after a Hasidic Jewish motorcade accidentally killed a black child. As Shapiro shows in this comprehensive, dispassionate account, the accident and what followed touched off a political firestorm in New York City: both black and Jewish activists exploited the death and the ensuing black unrest—during which a Jewish student was killed—for their own purposes. Shapiro deconstructs the simplistic readings of the event given at the time: some thought the Hasidic community received favored treatment, others that then Mayor David Dinkins was unwilling to use force against the black community. Historian Shapiro (A Time for Healing: American Jewry Since World War II ) writes with detachment but is willing to make judgments: a guilty verdict in the first of four trials in the death of the Jewish student "would have dissipated much of the anger of Jews over the mayor's handling of the riot." A myriad of factors—sociological, personal, religious and economic—had to be in place for the unrest to occur, says Shapiro, and he goes a long way toward providing the context necessary to understand them. (Apr. 28)

Reviewed on: 02/06/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
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