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The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption

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Overview

On a dark street, what began as a private moment between a citizen and the police became a national outrage.

Rodney Glen King grew up in the Altadena Pasadena section of Los Angeles with four siblings, a loving mother, and an alcoholic father. Soon young Rodney followed in Dad's stumbling steps, beginning a lifetime of alcohol abuse.

King had been drinking the night of March 3, 1991, when he engaged in a high-speed chase with the LAPD, who ...

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The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption

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Overview

On a dark street, what began as a private moment between a citizen and the police became a national outrage.

Rodney Glen King grew up in the Altadena Pasadena section of Los Angeles with four siblings, a loving mother, and an alcoholic father. Soon young Rodney followed in Dad's stumbling steps, beginning a lifetime of alcohol abuse.

King had been drinking the night of March 3, 1991, when he engaged in a high-speed chase with the LAPD, who finally pulled him over. What happened next shocked the nation. A group of officers brutally beat King with their metal batons, Tasered and kicked him into submission—all caught on videotape by a nearby resident. The infamous Rodney King Incident was born when this first instance of citizen surveillance revealed a shocking moment of police brutality, a horrific scene that stunned and riveted the nation via the evening news. Racial tensions long smoldering in L.A. ignited into a firestorm thirteen months later when four white officers were acquitted by a mostly white jury. Los Angeles was engulfed in flames as people rioted in the streets. More than fifty people were dead, hundreds were hospitalized, and countless homes and businesses were destroyed.

King's plaintive question, "Can we all just get along?" became a sincere but haunting plea for reconciliation that reflected the heartbreak and despair caused by America's racial discord in the early 1990s.

While Rodney King is now an icon, he is by no means an angel. King has had run-ins with the law and continues a lifelong struggle with alcohol addiction. But King refuses to be bitter about the crippling emotional and physical damage that was inflicted upon him that night in 1991. While this nation has made strides during those twenty years to heal, so has Rodney King, and his inspiring story can teach us all lessons about forgiveness, redemption, and renewal, both as individuals and as a nation.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this tell-all memoir, Rodney King lays bare his troubled life. He describes a childhood dominated by fear of his violent, alcoholic father, but quickly fast-forwards to the event that changed his life and thousands of others. On March 3, 1991, King was pulled over after being chased by police for speeding. His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, but rather than merely cuffing King, four LAPD officers administered a brutal and sustained beating, the video and repercussions of which would rock Los Angeles and make national headlines. A year later, after the policemen were acquitted, riots broke out in L.A. that would result in over 50 dead, thousands injured, and over a billion dollars in damages. King and Spagnola (My Appetite for Destruction) go on to detail the grueling and prolonged legal battles (a civil rights trial would result in two of the officers doing time in prison), his struggle with alcoholism, and continuing run-ins with the law. Though King admits that "the riot within… has not been purged," he ends on a note of hope that rings in harmony with his plea made years ago to end the L.A. riots—as he writes in the book, "Can we all get along? Maybe one day." Though by no means groundbreaking, King's take on his own story is nevertheless an interesting read. Photos. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
With the assistance of Spagnola, police-brutality victim and racial lightning rod King reflects on his 1991 beating by Los Angeles police officers and the riots and courtroom drama that followed. In his debut nonfiction book, King--a name which by his own admission has become "synonymous with drinking, DUIs, domestic violence, reckless driving, civil rights violations, police brutality [and] hate crimes"--provides a simply told tale of his experiences with racism and alcoholism and the night that would forever mar his life. While the title implies a psychological journey, most of King's revelations offer little more than surface-level reporting. The majority of the factual information can be read in any newspaper or on Wikipedia; the author is at his best when he shares the personal details of his story. In a particularly revealing moment, King describes disguising himself in a Bob Marley wig in an attempt to observe the riots spurred by the acquittal of the police officers. Watching from a few blocks away, he describes feeling "that terrible presence of hatred that I felt the night of the beating, that palpable wall of loathing that was absolutely suffocating." Unfortunately, these insights are rare, and King's play-by-play recounting of the courtroom drama is not nearly as interesting as his own thoughts on racial violence. Early on he writes, "I have been asked countless times if I've forgiven those officers for beating me. The short answer is yes." However, the long answer is far more complicated, and King's dry, spare reportage continually overwhelms personal reflection. Rarely plumbs new depths of insight on America's struggles with racial violence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062194435
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Pages: 245
  • Sales rank: 1,013,551
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Rodney Glen King is known for being the victim in a notorious police brutality case with the Los Angeles Police Department on March 3, 1991. King was born in Sacramento, California, to Odessa King. His father, Ronald King, an alcoholic, died at age forty-two. King grew up in Pasadena, California. In 2008, King was a cast member on VH1's second season of Celebrity Rehab, a popular TV show hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky that seeks to help celebrities become clean and sober.

Lawrence J. Spagnola is the coauthor of the New York Times bestselling My Appetite for Destruction by Steven Adler; and Christopher Award-winning writer of the Emmy-winning, Golden Globe-nominated television movie The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler. He is a Harvard graduate and a Rockefeller Fellow.

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Table of Contents

1 The World Wide open 1

2 Chaos Within, Chaos Without 27

3 The Burning of Los Angeles 59

4 A Second Chance at Justice 85

5 Hate and Confusion 109

6 Choose or Lose 135

7 A New Man 167

8 Clean and Sober 189

9 Live, Learn, Love 215

My Family, My Future, My Letter to You... 231

Acknowledgments 235

Bibliography 237

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2012

    very interesting an existential autobiography

    Rodney King, for all his problems, was a great ordinary man. He had his devils, but so do we all. When he said we are all here only a short time and we should get along he was so RIGHT! I wish him eternal peace and gor bless him.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 22, 2012

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