cover image 13 Days in Ferguson: A Memoir

13 Days in Ferguson: A Memoir

Ronald Johnson, with Alan Eisenstock. Tyndale Momentum, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4964-1657-5

In this sonorous but narrowly focused memoir, the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Mo., following the police killing of Michael Brown rage while a black police official struggles to restore peace. Johnson, a Missouri Highway Patrol captain who grew up in Ferguson, was appointed commander of police units in Ferguson several days into the riot and tried to de-escalate the situation by cutting demonstrators slack, eschewing tear gas, and getting police to talk to protesters. By day he walked the streets listening to residents and urging calm, by night he coped with looting, arson, gunfire, and Molotov cocktails; his dovish approach earned plaudits from the media and activists, but resentment—and racial epithets—from cops who accused him of siding with rioters. Johnson foregrounds his own tribulations: he weeps and prays, holds fatherly heart-to-hearts with troubled youth, and makes pronouncements about people coming together. (“I feel a shift—an emotional, spiritual shift.... This shift comes from God,” he reports after speaking at a church.) His narrative of the rioting, taken largely from his press briefings, however, glosses over both the aggressive tactics used by local police and the property damage wrought by protesters. The result is more about the author’s soul-searching than the upheaval. (Aug.)