A True Story of Murder in America

Book - 2015
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A masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America
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
"Moving and engrossing." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"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
"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
"Masterful . . . gritty reporting that matches the police work behind it." -- Los Angeles Times

" 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 ." --Martin Amis
"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." --Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee

" Ghettoside is a brilliant taxonomic investigation into the American violence epidemic disguised as a highly entertaining true crime book." --Matt Taibbi, author of The Divide
"Absorbing . . . Readers may come for Leovy's detective story; they will stay for her lucid social critique." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Publisher: New York :, Spiegel & Grau,, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780385529983
Branch Call Number: 364.1523 LEO
Characteristics: x, 366 pages ; 25 cm


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Jul 08, 2018

She doesn't really consider the cases where the instincts and determination of detectives are going toward the conviction of the wrong person, but she does paint a compelling case that we are pouring resources into the wrong ways to deal with high-crime areas.

Feb 13, 2016

This book is 95% filler - a waste of time. The message, that violence flourishes where there is no law enforcement, is important. This point could be made in one concise essay.

Jul 09, 2015

I am not sure which author led me to this piece but I am a little upset with whomever recommended it. I appreciated the history of violence in the south from the 19th through the 21st century. I appreciated the history and contemporary view of violence and gangs in what was once known as South Central LA and is now simply called the South West district due to stigma. I appreciated the inside look at police and detective work in South Central and how for instance one detective was given five homicide cases on his day off. I am sure that does not happen to the vast majority of other detectives in America. However I felt this would have made a better article or series of articles in the LA Times than as a book. I think she stretched out routines that were unnecessary to the story to fill up space. I also think while she did a great job following the detectives that she did not spend enough time and energy with the actual victims and their families and other folks who live in South Central. Besides the few detectives who actually do live in the neighborhood still I am sure that life and perspective is vastly different for the normal citizen living in this veritable war zone. It was interesting that one of the local detective's son was murdered, however so were hundreds of others and their story is no less important or interesting in my humble opinion.

athompson10 Jun 09, 2015

A worthy successor to David Simon's "Homicide." This book is as much an indictment of the LAPD's pathetic approach to and support of homicide investigation as it is a study of the deaths by gun violence of young black men in LA.

Marinetti May 23, 2015

Top notch look at black gang violence and police response in Los Angeles. I did find the book went downhill a little towards the very end- but 3/4ths of the book is excellent.

Apr 14, 2015

A penetrating look into the problems and causes of black on black violence in Los Angeles.

Mar 25, 2015

A frightening & compelling read. The author examines the complexities of crime in urban LA through the lens of one particular murder, and the detectives who pursue the case with relentless dedication.

Mar 09, 2015

very good insight into black on black murders which is so prevalent here in Omaha. I think good read for everyone. When I read about homicides I look to see if it is in my neighborhood and am fearful. Am sorry for victims and their families. But I had not considered living in the neighborhood with the murderers for decades and grudges that go on for generations. Maybe this picture of day to day life of victims and limited resources for police will encourage us to
be more empathetic and active in solving issues that lead to this violence.

Feb 17, 2015

very well written book.
The author tells a real life murder case from Los Angeles through to the final court verdict and intertwines it with a history of the detectives that solved it as well as trying to explain black on black violence.

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