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Unusual split memoir of the intertwined lives of a reformed drug dealer and a misfit turned Africa diplomat.
In alternating chapters, Prendergast (co-author: The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes, 2010) and Mattocks describe the bond that began many years ago, when Prendergast started an informal "Big Brother" relationship with Mattocks when he was seven years old and homeless. Prendergast depicts his own adolescence as deeply unhappy. Scarred by acne and familial estrangement, he retreated into athletics and fantasies of becoming a "do-gooder." He'd already discovered a preoccupation with Africa, specifically the suffering which the West ignored, that would eventually lead to his life's work, but also impulsively befriended Michael and his younger brother, James, while visiting a Washington D.C., shelter in 1983: "These boys hadnothingand yet radiated with life and sunshine." Over time, Prendergast provided a vital emotional lifeline to the Mattocks boys while trying to assuage his interest in Africa, moving from internship to lobbying on behalf of a small philanthropy, Bread for the World, and visiting the continent's trouble spots. Eventually, the author'ss dedication to this lonely cause led him to the Clinton White House, where he was Director for African Affairs at the NSC, and to involvement with celebrities like Don Cheadle and Angelina Jolie. The chapters that capture Mattocks' perspective are written in an unadorned, colloquial style that is nonetheless effective in capturing the forgotten realities of black urban America during the '80s, when gun violence and crack hellishly transformed daily life in places like D.C. Mattocks' depiction of his and James' gradual immersion in the drug trade is chilling, and he considers himself fortunate to have escaped, but also acknowledges that Prendergast's mentoring made a crucial difference: "Even though my dad left, we had J.P.... he cared about us in a way even my mom and my aunts didn't know how to."
A feel-good narrative that underscores the brutal effects of poverty at home and injustice abroad.
About the Authors
JOHN PRENDERGAST is a human rights activist and author. He is cofounder of the Enough Project (enoughproject.org), an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Working for the Clinton administration, he was directly involved in a number of peace processes in Africa. John helped create the Satellite Sentinel Project with George Clooney; coauthored two books with Don Cheadle; and worked on films with Ryan Gosling. He traveled to Africa with 60 Minutes for four different episodes. He has been a Big Brother since 1983.
MICHAEL MATTOCKS lived in homeless shelters as a child and began dealing drugs as a teenager. He is now a husband and father of five boys, working two jobs in order to support his family. He helps coach his sons’ football teams.
John Prendergast is available for select readings and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact the Random House Speakers Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-572-2013.
Posted January 22, 2013
This book was an awsome read, couldn't put it down. Wow you wouldn't believe how to people so different was so alike.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 21, 2012