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Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America

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Long before U.S. News and World Report named him one of America's Best Leaders and Oprah Winfrey called him "an angel from God," Geoffrey Canada was a small, vulnerable, scared boy growing up in the South Bronx. Canada's world was one where "sidewalk" boys learned the codes of the block and were ranked through the rituals of fist, stick, and knife. Then the streets changed, and the stakes got even higher. In this candid and riveting memoir, Canada relives a childhood in which violence stalked every street corner....
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Overview

Long before U.S. News and World Report named him one of America's Best Leaders and Oprah Winfrey called him "an angel from God," Geoffrey Canada was a small, vulnerable, scared boy growing up in the South Bronx. Canada's world was one where "sidewalk" boys learned the codes of the block and were ranked through the rituals of fist, stick, and knife. Then the streets changed, and the stakes got even higher. In this candid and riveting memoir, Canada relives a childhood in which violence stalked every street corner. "If you wonder how a fourteen-year-old can shoot another child his own age in the head and then go home to dinner," Canada writes, "you need to know you don't get there in a day, or week, or month. It takes years of preparation to be willing to commit murder, to be willing to kill or die for a corner, a color, or a leather jacket."

Through shattering storytelling, Canada recreates his childhood world, one in which the sidewalk boys learned the codes of the block from their elders and were ranked through the ritual of fist, stick and knife. He gives a cogent, chilling analysis of how things changed on the streets in the 1960s. And a thorough portrait of present reality. National ads/media.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Canada knows the world of inner-city children intimately, for he grew up in some of the most dangerous areas of the Bronx. As a young child, he learned that only those who can fight will survive. When he reached adolescence, the knife was the weapon of choice, but for today's youth, which he calls ``the handgun generation,'' it is the pistol. Canada explains exactly what growing up in this war zone does to the psyche: fear, doubt and anger crowd the mind, driving out love, friendship and laughter. There is no post-traumatic stress syndrome, because there is no ``post.'' Greedy drug dealers and gun manufacturers, he says, by flooding the inner cities with their products, have made urban violence, which always existed, more deadly. He has a series of recommendations, rooted in his own experience as a child and as an adult, that are thoroughly convincing. A more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a more compelling plea to end ``America's war against itself'' cannot be imagined. 40,000 first printing; author tour. (June)
Booknews
Canada (president of the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in New York City) offers a gripping memoir of his own youth and adulthood, as well as a description of his vision for a better future for children growing up in a frightening world of poverty, automatic weapons, and the continual threat of violence. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807004234
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 4/28/1996
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 192
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Canada is president of the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in New York City. He is the recipient of a 1995 Heinz Foundation Award and a Parents Magazine Award for his work in child advocacy, and he is author of Fist Stick Knife Gun (Beacon/paperback/0-8070-0423-5/$12.00).

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2006

    An Excellent Book

    If you have a passion for stopping violence among youngsters in the world, this book is for you. Geoffrey Canada is great at expalining the problem of violence and giving real life examples. Even if you aren't looking to change the world it's important to be aware of the rate of violence in this country. When you are in a situation in life, whether it be at school, work, or just on the street, and if you have read this book, it will help you out a lot. It teaches you not to fight just to fight-- but to fight only if you are in danger of losing your life. It makes you aware of the violence in this world, especially in the south Bronx. You get blown away by the information given to you about weapons that 10 year olds are using. You are astounded by the affect a gun can have on you if you are just carrying it around. This book made me aware of what is going on in the country at this time, which is very important for people to know. Without this valid information, you cannot have Canada's stories in your mind to remember when you are in a situation like his (God forbid). But with his stories having been read, you are prepared (not with weapons) but with knowledge of what to do if you are in an iffy area in the south Bronx (or any place in the world). So read this book, it is for your own good. (If you get inspired, which you probably will, it is also for the good of the kids that are living through the hell right now).

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

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