Let It Burn!: The Philadelphia Tragedy

Let It Burn!: The Philadelphia Tragedy

by Michael Boyette

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
On May 13, 1985 the Philadelphia headquarters of MOVE, a radical black organization, was destroyed by a bomb dropped from a police helicopter; in the explosion and subsequent fire, 11 members of MOVE, including five children, died and 61 homes were destroyed. Michael Boyette served on the grand jury that heard testimony against Mayor Wilson Goode and police commissioner Gregore Sambor, but did not indict them, and in this compelling account the authors, husband and wife, present a history and analysis of the movement. Founded by the virtually illiterate John Africa, MOVE preached a philosophy of uncontaminated nature--pure air and water and uncooked food, for instance--and a reverence for life, including the rats and cockroaches that infested their headquarters. Founded in the 1970s, the group had its first confrontation with authority in 1978, when a police officer was killed in a siege and several MOVE members were charged with murder. MOVE then became militant, disrupting the neighborhood to the point that the city was forced to take action, argue the authors, who convincingly conclude that the 1985 tragedy was caused more by official bungling than by malevolence. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
Library Journal - Library Journal
The 1985 siege by Philadelphia police of a house containing members of the black radical cult MOVE resulted in 11 deaths and the destruction of a neighborhood. The story has been the subject of a number of books, including Charles Bowser's Let the Bunker Burn ( LJ 5/15/89), Margot Harry's Attention MOVE: This Is Ameri ca ( LJ 6/1/87), and John Anderson & Hilary Hevenor's Burning Down the House ( LJ 6/1/87). Michael Boyette was a member of the grand jury which declined to indict anyone for the MOVE tragedy and, in contrast to the findings of the mayor's MOVE Commission, he does not believe that police gunfire prevented those who died from fleeing the house. This is a balanced, well-written account which provides the best overall understanding of these events published to date. Recommended for libraries which want more about MOVE.-- Gregor A. Preston, Univ. of California Lib., Davis

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