The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League

4.4 32
by Jeff Hobbs

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A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home.

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college

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A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets—and of one’s own nature—when he returns home.

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, “fronting” in Yale, and at home.

Through an honest rendering of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It’s about reaching one’s greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.

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Editorial Reviews

A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2014

In 2011, novelist Jeff Hobbs received terrible news: Robert Peace, his Yale roommate and a great friend, had been murdered in an apparent drug deal gone wrong. It was an event made all the more shocking by the fairy tale narrative of Peace’s life: a gifted boy from the slums of New Jersey, he triumphed over a troubled upbringing to graduate from the Ivy League. In a work that is both a touching biography and a sobering cultural critique, Hobbs, who is white, confronts head-on the cultural divide between himself and his departed friend, and asks why someone who seemed to have made it out would allow himself to be pulled back in. See all of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2014.

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The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Palegirl More than 1 year ago
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace won’t get out of my head.  I’ve been thinking about it long after I finished reading it.  I’m sure you will, too. A lot of people are probably going to say he wasted his life.  I’m not going to.  (Mostly because I bet a lot of people have said the same about me.)  Sometimes people just don’t know which way to go in life. Jeff Hobbs not only knew Robert Peace, when he decided to write about him, he researched his life in-depth.  Mr. Peace grew up in a violent and poverty-stricken city, raised by a hard-working, loving single mom.  He loved his mom dearly and wanted to take care of her and honor the sacrifices she made for him. He loved to read and learn and excelled in school.  It paid off when he got a full-ride to Yale.  But then what? This is an interesting and telling book on what it means to be a young person in this country and faced with not only difficult choices, but uncertain socio-economic futures .  Mr. Hobbs never judges.  This tale is told journalistically and with heart.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A brilliant mind and loving mother who struggled to get him the best education she could were not enough to save him from himself. An Ivy League education doesnt insulate you from stupid decisions. A very good cautionary tale, should be read by all HS students.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book and think it was very well written I found myself getting sad toward the end knowing that he was going to get killed but almost hoping he wouldn't Kudos to the author on his first nonfiction I enjoyed the way he put himself into the story & sometimes told the story from his own point of view Recommend this as it is nonfiction but reads like a novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeff Hobbs has done a wonderful job of re-creating his relationship with his college roommate at Yale. A horrific story that has lessons to be learned about the effects of one's background on the remainder of their life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is an amazing story. It is filled with the uplifting story of Robert’s rise out of the slums to attain an Ivy League education. Yet this is not a feel good story as Robert ends up falling victim to the streets he tried to leave behind. Good stuff!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book captured me. The author told the story well and although he was Rob's friend, he presents an unbiased tale. At the end of the day, it is a telling tale of what generations of poverty and hopelessness combined the years of drug use can do to a bright and talented person's trajectory. I couldn't help but wonder how much of this tragedy would have been avoided if Rob had never gotten into the drug scene.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book and I cannot stop thinking about it. It is well written as Jeff Hobbs describes the multifaceted world that Robert Peace lived in and the person he becomes. Even though I knew what was going to happen in the end, it still left me shaken. Although Robert was the central figure in the book, there are many other characters who I wanted to succeed and cheered for while reading it. While some do succeed, others cannot escape their environment and fail. I cannot help but think about the hundreds of thousands of others living in that same situation. I believe this book will continue to receive the buzz and accolades it deserves in the upcoming future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This young man loved and worshiped his Father only to lose him to injustice. He tried to restore him by following his example which cost him his life. This is a story of ?ove and devotion in so many ways.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took me out of my comfort zone, thank you for sharing such a tragic life.
IrishIL More than 1 year ago
This was a some what difficult book for me to get through. Mr. Hobbs' story of his friend Rob Peace just seems to drag on and on. I think if he could have eliminated some of his own thoughts and to get on with the story, I would have liked it better; however I was anxious to find out why and how he was killed. It was a good read and very interesting life of one man who came from a poor family but still managed to put himself through school including college; making great grades and continuing to make something of himself after college. He took care of his mother and tried his best to help his father. It took me sometime to get through this book, but in the end it was worth it.
MahMah More than 1 year ago
Sad to say, Author Hobbs had me 'judging' all over the place as I read his devastating but beautifully written chronicle covering the short but amazing life of his onetime Yale roommate and friend, Robert Peace. By the time I finished the book I was so filled with JUDGMENTS, outrage, pity, and sorrow that I was almost sorry I had ventured to read it! But then I remembered a quote I'd once read by Viktor Frankel, author, neurologist and psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor (1905-1997): "No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same." So I 'asked' and for this reason I give this book FIVE stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i read this book almost none stop till about the last third at which point i just wanted to jump ahead and see where it was that his life started spiraling downward i recommend the book for its reality check.
Anonymous 6 days ago
Could not put it down well written
Anonymous 3 months ago
OK, I am over 60 yrs old and have never cried at the end of a book...and I have read a lot of tragic stories (true crime, memoirs)..This story really touched me on many levels..beautifully written by Hobbs (who better -someone who knew him but had objective distant ). I think we all can identify with several people in the story..his mom, his friends.. What a helpless feeling when you try to give someone advice but don't want to push..and then they don't listen. At one level, it describes the process of what a man goes through to "find his way" in life....the pressures that women do not have (we have our own). Just so sad...makes you wonder what his life would have become if he had lived longer. Someone should make a movie from this book....maybe required reading in high school...highly recommend.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Hobbs did a great job of thoroughly weaving through the colorful and textured life of Robert Peace. This is more than a story about promise wasted ,it is the story of existential circumstances and insurmountable choices. I commend Hobbs on his ability to provide the reader with all sides of Rob from a unfiltered , unbiased perspective. Excellent read for anyone and everyone !
Anonymous 6 months ago
As a book, this is an excellent read, painstakingly researched and heartbreaking story of the life of a young man with such enormous potential that met an unfortunate, violent, and all too soon ending. As a story, the life of Robert Peace is an incredibly inspiring tale of grit, determination, brilliance, and unshakable tenacity. It is heartbreaking to imagine the incredible heights Robert could have achieved and the contributions he could have made to science or any field had he made it. I believe that while his talents were wasted, I am sure that he lived and very full life and made the best of his years. I so much admire his mother Jackie, as well as Robert for their ability to overcome and for their perserverance. This story is incredible touching and sad, and I am certain I am not alone in saying that I wish the ending had been very, very diffrrent, not just for Robert but also for so many other promising youths whose lives are ended all too soon and while they had so very much more to do and offer in life. Rest in Peace, Shaun.
Anonymous 9 months ago
The author drew me into Robert's life immediately and by the end of the book I felt I had lost my own friend. I wish I could have know Robert and helped him see what a positive role he could play in the world rather than the negative and dark path he chose in the end. Read this book. It will change you for the better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a class, but I wasn't even 50 pages in when I realized I wasn't only reading the book for school, but because the author had captured my attention. I wanted to know about Rob, his family, friends, and ultimately where everything went wrong. Tragic is exactly the word I would use to describe Roberts life. Born with the expectation by society that he would grow up to be nobody who would either end up in prison or prematurely in a grave. By sheer force of will and determination shared with his mother Robert beat the odds and got an education only some can dream of. Sadly that wasn't enough. Even with all that promise and education Robert couldn't find it in himself to turn his back on the lifestyle that he was raised in and the people that he truly related to. In the case of Nature vs. Nurture, nature won and Robert lost. This is an excellent book and I would recommend it to anyone. Not so you can judge this man or the people in his life for their choice, but because I think everyone could use a little self reflection that this book gives.
mdgirlLB More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Very good writing. Really helped you get to know Rob Peace and his life. So sad he chose the life he did after college. The only draw back I had was there were times when the story line was long and too drawn out. I had to skip over pages that I felt did not matter to the story. All in all, a very good book.
Mohamed-Gueye1069 More than 1 year ago
Iwas very saddened by this book. It fells hard to hear that a young wise man was so close to achieving his goal at the IVY school, Yale University. When he was born, it was the greatest day of his parents lives. As he grew up in Newark, New Jersey, there has been a lot of ups and downs with the crimes that are involved. Robert Peace was that much of a talker until he was 3. When he went through his education, he was fast making new friends having excellent education making Rob Peace a unique and wise man. After finishing high school, being accepted to Yale University was a dream come true. That ballistic trauma (gunshot wound) was tragic and unforgettable. This was right for the author, Jeff Hobbs, to write this heartbreaking biography. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book
senated More than 1 year ago
He beat the odds then the odds beat him. A real tragic story about a kid who, despite his disadvantaged  background, earns his college degree from Yale. He has the education and talent to go any direction, but decides Instead to become a heavy drug user and dealer. It was only a matter of time before you knew what would Kill him in the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! One of the best books I've read, Jeff Hobbs did a great job taking you on the journey of Rob Peace life. I still can't believe he's dead. Jeff Hobbs you are an amazing person for allowing Robert Peace to touch the lives of people that are still alive to read his story and to inspire people around them to be great even when your enviroment make it impossible!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago