The Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America

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Overview

In Brownsville's twenty-one housing projects, the young cops and the teenagers who stand solemnly on the street corners are bitter and familiar enemies. The Ville, as the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn is called by the locals, is one of the most dangerous places on earth - a place where homicide is a daily occurrence. Now, Greg Donaldson, a veteran urban reporter and a long-time teacher in Brooklyn's toughest schools, evokes this landscape with stunning and frightening accuracy. The Ville follows a...
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Overview

In Brownsville's twenty-one housing projects, the young cops and the teenagers who stand solemnly on the street corners are bitter and familiar enemies. The Ville, as the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn is called by the locals, is one of the most dangerous places on earth - a place where homicide is a daily occurrence. Now, Greg Donaldson, a veteran urban reporter and a long-time teacher in Brooklyn's toughest schools, evokes this landscape with stunning and frightening accuracy. The Ville follows a year in the life of two urban black males from opposite sides of the street. Gary Lemite, an enthusiastic young Housing police officer, charges recklessly into gunfire in pursuit of respect and promotion. Sharron Corley, a member of a gang called the LoLifes and the star of the Thomas Jefferson High School play, is also looking for respect as he tries to survive these streets. Brilliantly capturing the firestorm of violence that is destroying a generation, waged by teenagers who know at thirty yards the difference between a MAC-10 machine pistol and a .357 magnum, The Ville is the story of our inner cities and the lives of the young men who remain trapped there. In the tradition of There Are No Children Here and Clockers, The Ville is a vivid and unforgettable contribution to our understanding of race and violence in America today.

The Ville, as a Brooklyn neighborhood is called by the locals, is one of the most dangerous places in America--a place where homicide is a daily occurrence. Written by a veteran urban reporter and long-time teacher in Brooklyn's toughest schools, this story brilliantly captures the firestorm of violence that is destroying a generation. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``The Ville'' is the name given by residents to the two-square mile area encompassing parts of the Brownsville and East New York sections of Brooklyn, N.Y. Once heavily Jewish, now populated almost exclusively by African Americans and Hispanics, the community contains 21 housing projects and has the highest murder rate in the city. Donaldson, a longtime teacher in Brooklyn's inner-city schools, has composed a powerful, searing look at Gary Lemite, a brave and dedicated Housing Authority police officer who tries to stem the tide of crack and guns in the area, and Sharron Corley, a talented and handsome teenager, who is hoping to escape the neighborhood of which he is very much a product. Donaldson captures unforgettably the despair and resignation of the residents, especially the younger ones, who may be shot at any moment and wage a desperate, unending battle to create an image and gain respect. He also depicts two educators who struggle to keep students from sliding into hopelessness. Donaldson's insightful analysis and deep human understanding make this a memorable book. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Donaldson, who spent more than two years with ``cops and kids,'' has written an eloquent and compelling account spanning four seasons in the lives of two black men, one an aspiring teenager, one a cautiously ambitious housing cop. Each has dreams for his future; each is mired in the daily nightmare existence that pervades Brooklyn's Brownsville section. Life in ``the Ville'' means drugs, AIDS, crack, gangs, carnage, failed hopes, and derailed promise--all exacerbated by the most deadly scourge, the gun. Donaldson calls it the drug of choice for the young there, ``giving them release from the shadows of doubt to the white light of power and respect.'' This powerful statement of concern and tragedy deserves wide attention from politicians, professionals, and many, many others.-- Suzanne W. Wood, SUNY Coll. of Technology, Alfred
Kirkus Reviews
"You're not in Kansas anymore," proclaims a popular Brooklyn T-shirt, the words emblazoned above an illustration of a smoking gun. Donaldson's report on a year in the borough's baddest ghetto brings that warning home with power and compassion. To center his story of Brownsville's urban blight, Donaldson (a freelance writer and Brooklyn schoolteacher) focuses on the days of one cop and one kid—both black, the cop young Housing officer Gary Lemite, the kid 17-year-old Sharron Corley. As time passes, summer to spring, each succumbs to the violence that drenches the area, a warren of forbidding housing projects and tenements: Lemite, though a decent cop, grows more ready to use his fists and his gun; Sharron—the heart of Donaldson's story—though basically a good kid despite his allegiance to a shoplifting gang (Polo clothes only), can't resist the ghetto code of the triumph of the fittest, and ends up doing a terrifying stint behind bars for stealing, with an ice pick, a jacket from another, weaker kid. Donaldson's clear but shocking message is that in the desperately poor, drug-ridden inner city (further brought to life by the author's tracking of several local hoodlums, including a notorious crack-dealing family), even good kids must be at ease with violence in order to survive. But there's hope in the ghetto too, personified by the principal of, as well as a teacher at, the area's tough high school—courageous women who speak the language of the streets and use it to try to keep their students from dying young. Full of charged moments—Sharron marveling like an alien visitor at the clean wonders of white Brooklyn, or grieving for his dead baby son, orstanding down a threat to his life—Donaldson's account vivifies the humanity of ghetto residents on both sides of the law, and stands as one of the most gripping inner-city chronicles of recent years. (Photos)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395633151
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 9/20/1993
  • Pages: 401
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.32 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2000

    The Ville

    Errick West, a 13 years old student in 8th grade. This senior urban reporter, Greg Donaldson, is at it again. This book and the writing quality of it is fastidious. The book has one of the greatest plots I¿ve ever read in my life. This book takes you into the heart of New York, and gives you a unfathomed perspective of cops and urban kids and their relationship. This is a must read book for people that are concerned about our next generation of kids, and the communities they grow up in.

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