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“A story told with the authority and nuance that comes with exhaustive research…Without a doubt Killing the Messenger will stand as the definitive work on Bailey's murder and Oakland's Your Black Muslim Bakery.” – The Associated Press
“[A] chilling narrative…Peele’s undying integrity not only uncovers enough hard-hitting facts to thoroughly close both the investigation and the murder, but also restores our trust that justice can be served.” -- Uptown Magazine
“A very well written and thoroughly researched book…Peele bring vital historical context to the contemporary aspects of his tale…Killing the Messenger may well be the best, most thoroughly researched, and – with exceptions noted – most objective book thus far written on the subject, and is no doubt destined to become required reading in many colleges and universities. Hopefully it will also be read in prisons, to educate young black men that Tricknology comes in all colors. If the devil is indeed in the details, Peele has given us many demons to exorcise.” – Columbia Journalism Review
“An astonishing account…Reading it, I kept flashing back to "The Wire," David Simon's devastating HBO series on the disintegration of the American city. There are details in this book that even Simon couldn't have dreamed up…Peele's writing is straightforward and free of sensationalism…More than a gripping true-crime story, Killing the Messenger is an indictment of a corrupt and cowardly civic culture that isn't unique to Oakland.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Killing the Messenger will be a revelation to many readers, detailing 100 years of American history that simply isn't part of the mainstream lexicon. Peele masterfully draws a line from the "radical faith" that the scars of slavery and Jim Crow helped popularize to the bullets that turned Chauncey Bailey into "a First Amendment martyr."” – San Francisco Chronicle
“[Thomas Peele] is the kind of writer who can convert the passion of newswriting into an art form, even if it's a subject -- the assassination of a journalist, and the events that led up to it -- that's never pretty nor polished. Indeed, he managed to take a complex subject -- the rise of a family in Oakland, Calif. that worshiped the Nation of Islam, and then conspired to assassinate a journalist to protect themselves -- and make it simple, dramatic and unique.” – Tom Davis, The Huffington Post
“The murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey and a family's violent rise to prominence is given gripping life…Compelling reading…And it is a chilling reminder of the murder and acts of intimidation that confront journalists around the world regularly. Seeking to bring light to the truth can be a dangerous pursuit, even here in the land of the free.” – LA Times
“With a sense of immediacy and purpose, Peele reconstructs the story in gripping fashion. He is especially adept at describing personalities…Killing the Messenger leaves no stone unturned in its historical account. The author illuminates each new character — even if it means going back a generation or two — and then puts him into the context of the story. In doing so, he shows how racism and oppression spawned a radical faith rooted in revenge.” – Youngstown Vindicator
“A complex, carefully constructed story of the development of the Black Muslim Movement and one of its most notorious leaders.” – Kirkus
"[An] eye-opening narrative about radical religion and its consequences...Peele renders characters and scenes with rich detail and his chronicle of events surrounding Bailey’s death unfolds with the seamlessness of a fictional thriller, would that were the case.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“[A] riveting account.” - Booklist
“A riveting account of the events that led up to Bailey's murder…It is an exhaustively researched narrative that details the rise and fall of Your Black Muslim Bakery…[with] Sometimes stomach-churning detail.” - Oakland Tribune
“This is totally chilling, incredibly strange material, and the book is sweeping, site-specific, and compulsively readable.” – The Observer’s Very Short List
“Killing the Messenger is a crackling work of nonfiction, impossible to put down. Like Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, Thomas Peele unpacks a tale of extremism and evil spawned by another peculiar American religion, The Nation of Islam. The malicious leader Yusuf Bey and his murderous followers and sons in the Your Black Muslim Bakery cult wreaked bloody havoc on the Bay Area for decades, until finally brought down by their brazen killing of a community journalist, Chauncey Bailey.” - Nina Burleigh, New York Times bestselling author of The Fatal Gift of Beauty
“Tough, taut, and true! Killing the Messenger is a non-fiction noir trip through the dark side of religion, journalism, racial politics, and law enforcement. A REAL thriller." – Robert Lipsyte, author of An Accidental Sportswriter
“Peele exposes the sordid and homicidal history of the Nation of Islam and its offshoots. Yusuf Bey, like David Koresh and Jim Jones before him, was the leader of a cult of personality. While most members of any cult are essentially good but misguided people, Peele shows how anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, will do almost anything – including kill – if he believes his leader is divine. Chauncey Bailey was, sadly, a victim of Bey’s megalomania.” --Karl Evanzz, author of The Judas Factor and The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad
“Thomas Peele is one of the great investigative reporters working today. His remarkable and obsessively researched book charts the trajectory of an Oakland crime family responsible for a string of murders. More important, perhaps, it exposes the willful myopia of the city officials and community leaders who allowed this outfit to operate over a span of decades.” -A.C. Thompson, Investigative reporter, ProPublica and PBS Frontline
Author's Note on Usage xi
Dramatis Personae xiii
Introduction: A Murmur of Growing Intensity XV
Part 1 "You don't know my name?"
Prologue That Will Teach Them… 3
1 There Goes Lucifer 14
2 You're a Baker? 24
3 An Anguished Life 33
Part 2 "Just why do you want to be like the people who have robbed, spoiled, and slain you and your fathers?"
4 Love Ye One Another 45
5 The Forces of Hell 57
6 I Am the Supreme Ruler of the Universe 73
7 Tricknology 85
8 There Will Be Plenty of Bloodshed 97
9 You Don't Hate People Enough 107
Part 3 "I come from Oakland, shitbox of the West."
10 Detroit of the West 125
11 No Good Cause Shall Lack a Champion 137
12 Generate a Cause for Arrest 142
13 A Boy in Seaside 158
14 Totally Ludicrous 172
15 An Instrument of Community Understanding 183
16 The Evil Old Man Is Dead 191
Part 4 "Kill no one that Allah has not ordered to be killed."
17 We Have Enemies 201
18 A Swarm of Muslims 210
19 I Got Hella Flaws 223
20 The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight 231
21 Crazy-Ass Hitters 238
22 We Should Not Become the Evil That We Deplore 245
23 Convenient but Not True 253
24 Highly Questionable Circumstances 261
25 Are These Dangerous People? 268
26 What the Hell Is This? 280
27 .I Told Y'all It Was Gonna Be Big 287
28 I Shot Him 299
29 Pow…Pow…Poof! 311
30 Captain Marvel, Come Help Us 320
31 Why… 329
32 . My Life Is No Accident 338
Epilogue: It's an Analogy? 351
Selected Bibliography 415
Posted March 15, 2014
Posted September 14, 2013
On August 2, 2007, Chauncey Bailey, a journalist in Oakland, was murdered. Very quickly we learn that his murder was a purposeful attempt to silence him. You wonder, Who would do this? Why? What was Bailey reporting on? And as investigative reporter Thomas Peele unspools the story thread by thread, it is like watching a horrible accident and feeling like you cannot turn away.
Subtitled A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist, Peele’s riveting narrative covers all of that and more. Having begun with the murder, he turns back the clock to examine the racism that permeated the United States in the 1920’s and 1930’s and the dreadful conditions that many African-Americans endured, particularly in cities where, ironically, they had sought refuge from abuses in the South. These conditions sparked anger and enabled some manipulative, malevolent men to take advantage of their desperate, uneducated neighbors; but even this is an understatement when you read about the cult that emerged in Oakland.
I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say this: in addition to being a heinous act, the murder of Chauncey Bailey was quite avoidable. And by the end, you will understand why.
Reviewed by Sarah Tantillo at ONLY GOOD BOOKS blog.
Posted August 4, 2011
No text was provided for this review.