Christian Prince, a 19-year-old Yale student from an affluent Maryland family, was fatally shot in New Haven, Conn., in 1991; 16-year-old ghetto resident James (Dunc) Fleming Jr. was accused of the crime. At trial, he was found guilty of conspiracy, but the jury reached no decision on the murder charge; in his second trial, Fleming was exonerated of murder. He is now serving a nine-year sentence. In his sociological exploration, Douglas (Class: The Wreckage of an American Family) explains that, as the offspring of a comfortable white family, he understands the Princes better than the Flemings, but his account is scrupulously fair to both families. His investigation of this tragedy led him to conclude that the Kerner Report's 1967 prediction has come to pass: there are indeed two societies in the U.S., which are, as Douglas puts it, ``not at war, not separate but totally estranged.'' He believes many African Americans, at least in urban areas, live in a world where conventional values have been turned upside down, with no expectation of reversal. A depressing report. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
In the early morning of February 17, 1991, Christian Prince, a handsome, blond, 19-year-old Yale University student was shot to death on a New Haven street for no apparent reason, his wallet left untouched beside him. His accused murderer was Duncan Fleming, a 16-year-old black gang member. Douglas (Class, LJ 10/1/92) seeks to make sense of this violent confrontation between opposite worlds. In alternating chapters, he tells the stories of the Princes, a white middle-class family whose comfortable suburban lifestyle was shattered abruptly one winter night, and the Flemings, a black ghetto family for whom their son's arrest was just one more blow in a long string of misfortunes. Unfortunately, Douglas's book is weakened by his clichd portrait of the Princes as blandly "perfect," and readers are likely to feel more sympathy for the down-on-their-luck Flemings. Exposing the ever-widening gap between whites and blacks, this is depressing reading. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/ 94.]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
In February 1991 in New Haven, Connecticut, a random act of violence took the life of 19-year-old Christian Prince, an upstanding Yale University sophomore. Prince was shot with a .22 caliber handgun by 13-year-old gangbanger James Fleming, who after two trials was found guilty of conspiracy. Douglas documents this tragic case as "a story about life--"two" lives, and the lives that surround them." He interviews both Prince's wealthy parents (Christian's father is a high-powered Washington, D.C., attorney, his mother a successful businesswoman) and Fleming's parents, who live on welfare in New Haven. Douglas presents the Flemings as caring parents who tried to exert a stabilizing influence on a son who succumbed to the pressures and pleasures of the streets. While trying to remain evenhanded, Douglas freely admits feeling more connected to Prince's grieving family. Although not intended as a true-crime account, Douglas' effort works better as a chronicle of a senseless crime than a commentary on social ills.