The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge

The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge

3.7 20
by T. J. English
     
 

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“T.J. English has the mastered the hybrid narrative art form of social history and underworld thriller. The Savage City is a truly gripping read filled with unexpected twists and turns.”
—Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge

In The Savage City, T.J. English, author of the New York Times

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Overview

“T.J. English has the mastered the hybrid narrative art form of social history and underworld thriller. The Savage City is a truly gripping read filled with unexpected twists and turns.”
—Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge

In The Savage City, T.J. English, author of the New York Times bestselling blockbuster Havana Nocturne, takes readers back to a frightening place in a dark time of violence and urban chaos: New York City in the 1960s and early ’70s. As he did in his acclaimed true crime masterwork, The Westies, English focuses on the rot on the Big Apple in this stunning tale of race, murder, and a generation on the edge—as he interweaves the real-life sagas of a corrupt cop, a militant Black Panther, and an innocent young African American man framed by the NYPD for a series of crimes, including a brutal and sensational double murder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forget Vietnam—New York City in the 1960s and 1970s hosted its own civil war between a racist police force and a newly militant black underclass, according to this bare-knuckled true-crime saga. A journalist and ex-screenwriter for NYPD Blue and Homicide, English (Havana Nocturne) distills a decade of conflict into three iconic figures: George Whitmore, a black teen wrongly charged with the grisly "Career Girl Murders" on the basis of a coerced confession; Bill Phillips, a dirty cop whose testimony exposed ubiquitous police corruption; and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a Black Panther targeted by both law enforcement and rival comrades. English paints a vivid, gritty panorama of a city wracked by racial insurgency, showing us precinct house backrooms where black suspects are beaten and white perps let off with a bribe; seething ghettos ready to riot at the next police shooting; and mean streets where the cops themselves face machine-gun fire. The author's pulpy prose—"The Career Girls Murder story was like a good-looking whore"—and episodic subplots don't quite support his vision of urban apocalypse. Still, English gives us a gripping, noirish retrospective of an era when brutal misrule sparked desperate rage. Photos. (Mar.)
Mother Jones
“It’s dripping with the kind of detail that’s too good to make up.”
Booklist (starred review)
“An epic look at the racial animus, fear, and hatred that characterized [a] troubled decade. . . . Through the lives of three ostensibly unrelated men, English peels back the underlying turmoil that led to the violent period and the unaddressed social ills that remain to this day.”
New York Daily News
“A searing profile of an ugly New York….The Savage City is meant to make us look back in anger and sorrow, perhaps to reflect upon what stayed the same as things changed.”
New York Times
“[T.J. English] returns with a swashbuckling, racially charged nightmare about New York City in 1960s. This is one nightmare worth reliving because Mr. English so vividly recreates an era….he graphically reconstructs a rampaging decade through three lives.”
New York Post
“A brutal reminder that New York was not always such a welcoming place.”
Booklist
"An epic look at the racial animus, fear, and hatred that characterized [a] troubled decade. . . . Through the lives of three ostensibly unrelated men, English peels back the underlying turmoil that led to the violent period and the unaddressed social ills that remain to this day."
Douglas Brinkley
“T.J. English has the mastered the hybrid narrative art form of social history and underworld thriller. The Savage City is a truly gripping read filled with unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommended.”
Colum McCann
“The Savage City is a necessary examination of the people, passions and maligned principles by which New York City once lived and died. English has a magnificent sense of the manner in which people, landscape, and history are bound together. Every world is a corner and every corner is a world.”
Library Journal
The city was New York and the time 1963, when two young white women were murdered in their apartment and nearly blind black teenager George Whitmore Jr. was charged. The corrupt and deeply racist NYPD had evidently coerced a confession. Best-selling author English weaves together the story of Whitmore, bad cop Bill Phillips, and Dhoruba bin Wahad, a member of the fledgling Black Panther Party, to tell this chilling story. History as wake-up call; with a 100,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews

Superior chronicle of the most violent decade in New York City history.

Through a crisp journalistic lens, English (Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution, 2008, etc.) retraces the tormented life of three men who proved pivotal in Manhattan's "now-legendary descent into mayhem" from the early '60s to the mid '70s, as the struggling civil-rights movement battled a corrupt, brutal law-enforcement agency. Following the March on Washington in the late summer of 1963, two white Upper East Side women were found bound together, raped and brutally slashed to death. Police scrambled to bring the increasingly sensational double-homicide case to swift closure. George Whitmore, a naïve, 19-year-old, partially blind black laborer, was falsely identified as the perpetrator and coerced into signing a multiple-felony confession by the NYPD, then a primarily white-male "autonomous institution." Whitmore spent a decade defending himself in the face of a merciless, unyielding justice system. English also provides a deep profile of Bill Phillips, a thieving, prejudiced, corrupt second-generation police officer, as well as of Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a fearless ex-convict and Black Panther Party. Culled from a host of wide-ranging interviews, memoirs, court-case transcripts, books, and documentary programming, the author effectively addresses key events like the 1963 Harlem Riots, the shockwaves of Malcolm X's assassination and the Knapp Commission's dogged scrutiny of NYPD corruption. Noting that the three centerpiece profiles he features (and the era in which they lived) are "largely forgotten today," their separate legacies should serve as a cautionary reminder.

A comprehensive, still-shocking exhumation of racial discord in America.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062074966
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/15/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
235,182
File size:
1 MB

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What People are saying about this

Douglas Brinkley
“T.J. English has the mastered the hybrid narrative art form of social history and underworld thriller. The Savage City is a truly gripping read filled with unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommended.”
Colum McCann
“The Savage City is a necessary examination of the people, passions and maligned principles by which New York City once lived and died. English has a magnificent sense of the manner in which people, landscape, and history are bound together. Every world is a corner and every corner is a world.”

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