Journalist Thompson debuts with a spellbinding and meticulously researched account of the deadly attack on Dallas law enforcement officers at a July 2016 rally to protest the police shootings of Philando Castile, in Minnesota, and Alton Sterling, in Louisiana. Drawing on interviews and video and audio recordings, Thompson recreates the assault—which killed five police officers, wounded 11 people, and ended with the death of attacker Micah Xavier Johnson by robot-delivered bomb—from the perspectives of key players including Dallas police chief David Brown; SWAT team negotiator Larry Gordon; protester Shetamia Taylor, who was shot in the leg while shielding her son from Johnson’s bullets; and trauma surgeon Brian Williams, who operated on the wounded officers. Thompson laces her moment-by-moment rundown of the event with harrowing descriptions of the string of police killings that galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement, and illuminating historical tangents about the JFK assassination, the Attica prison uprising, and the disastrous 1985 police bombing of a black activist group’s headquarters in Philadelphia. Throughout, she spotlights the complexities of the racial dynamics involved, noting, for example, that Williams, “the only black doctor on a team of twelve trauma surgeons,” both sympathized with Johnson’s anger over police killings of black men and tried to save the lives of the white cops he targeted. This standout account is both a riveting page-turner and a nuanced portrait of one of contemporary America’s most divisive social issues. (Sept.)
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2020
“A fine and powerful narrative…As with any good book, Standoff brims with strong characters. One of the more compellingly drawn is Larry Gordon…It’s a profile so effectively rendered that it’s not hard to see, say, Denzel Washington playing Gordon in a movie version of Standoff.” The Dallas Morning News
“[A] ticktock, scene-driven account…eerily prescient.” The New York Times Book Review
"In Standoff, Jamie Thompson elegantly tells the story of one of the deadliest days in the history of American law enforcement. She deftly weaves dozens of individual stories into one, transforming her subjects from characters into fully formed people. While it's a moving, intimate account of the officers who faced terror that day, it goes even furtherplacing the day's events into the broader context of a nation grappling with issues of race and justice. A true public service for those of us who hope we can find a way to close the gap in trust between American police and the communities they serve." Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestselling They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement
"A thrilling read that is as moving as it is riveting and cinematic. So meticulously reported that I often had to remind myself that it was nonfiction, this is a book that tells a big story about race, policing and politics while managing never to be heavy-handed about its message. Thompson is a writer of rare talent and perception."Mitchell Zuckoff, New York Times bestselling author of 13 Hours and Lost in Shangri-La
“By digging with such honesty into the heroics and heartbreaks of an American mass shooting, Jamie Thompson has written a crucial, clear-eyed, and deeply moving book about the people among us who want to ruin lives and the better people among us who want to save them. I was immersed in Standoff from beginning to end because of the understanding it gave me about the seemingly inexplicable, and also because it’s an absolute page-turner of a story.”David Finkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Thank You For Your Service
“Spellbinding and meticulously researched…This standout account is both a riveting page-turner and a nuanced portrait of one of contemporary America’s most divisive social issues.” Publishers Weekly, *starred review*
“Standoff, Jamie Thompson's deeply researched and elegantly rendered account of the Dallas police shootings, lays the compelling experience of the individual against the insidious tides of racism and violence within our society. The events of July 7th, 2016 are gripping and terrifying. The political, social, and historical structures surrounding these hours are meticulously explored and illuminating. And each individual navigating decisions with mortal consequences shimmers with life, each offering a stunning depth of experience and perspectivenot only into the courage of their various professions, but into the soul of a fragile, resilient country.” Jeff Hobbs, New York Times bestselling author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
“A nail-biting and nuanced true-life police procedural.” Kirkus Reviews, *starred review*
“Standoff takes readers into the heart-pounding hours when a gunman opened fire on Dallas area police during a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally. The story unfolds within the broader complex intersection of police shootings of black men and an entire community’s reliance on law enforcement to protect its citizens, at no time more than when mass shootings like this one unfold. Standoff is a must-read to understand these critical issues that continue to plague America.” Jennifer Berry Hawes, author of Grace Will Lead Us Home
“It’s amazing what Jamie Thompson has been able to pull offtaking us inside the Dallas Police Department during a single day of terror. She gives us a searing, intimate account of a group of officers who put their lives on the line to save innocent citizens and who then come up with a remarkable plan to bring down a killer. Standoff is a saga of chaos, tragedy, and stunning heroism.” Skip Hollandsworth, New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Assassin
Tensions boiled over during the summer of 2016 as activists and others took to the streets nationwide to protest the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. On July 7, Dallas-area activists planned to protest by marching through the downtown area of the city. By the end of day five, police officers lay dead with several wounded, shot while on duty by a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle. In her first book, Thompson, who covered this story for the Washington Post and the Dallas Morning News, takes readers inside the gun battle, which raged over Dallas streets and ended, hours later, with the death of the gunman inside a local community college from an improvised bomb fashioned by Dallas SWAT explosives experts. Thompson conducted in-depth interviews, and reviewed numerous documents and hundreds of hours of camera footage to assemble this detailed account of the tragic events. She explores the thoughts and feelings of the SWAT team members, giving their perspectives greater depth and clarity, while placing the events in their proper context. VERDICT Readers interested in issues of police violence, race relations, and true crime will find this work illuminating.—Chad E. Statler, Westlake Porter P.L., Westlake, OH
An absorbing account of a 2016 ambush that left five Dallas police officers dead.
Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, Texas journalist Thompson chronicles the events before, during, and after July 7, 2016, when a disaffected man acting alone murdered five Dallas police officers and terrorized an entire city before being stopped. The author, who covered the shooting for the Washington Post and, later, the Dallas Morning News, avoids discussing the murderer until more than 200 pages into the narrative. Instead, she focuses on law enforcement and civilians who entered the line of fire, explaining why and how they converged on downtown Dallas on that fatal night. Large crowds had gathered to protest against police in various cities killing civilians without cause, especially black men. The death of Philando Castile in Minnesota had especially angered the protesters. Of all the major characters, Senior Cpl. Larry Gordon is the most memorable. A black officer and negotiator on the Dallas SWAT team, his specialty is to talk to holed-up criminals, citizens contemplating suicide, and any others within his jurisdiction who could be persuaded with words. Gordon seems ideal for his specific task due in large part to his empathy and his understanding of the complex racial undercurrents involved in police work, both of which are on full display throughout the text. As Thompson also makes clear, Gordon does not automatically cover for his brethren; he is unafraid to call out injustice when he sees it. Throughout the book, the author deftly weaves Gordon’s opinions and experiences with those of her other significant characters, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, Chief David Brown, trauma surgeon Brian Williams, public transit police officer Misty McBride, and protester Shetamia Taylor, who was shot in the leg by the perpetrator. Thompson's storytelling gift allows her to maintain suspense despite the outcome being known in advance.
A nail-biting and nuanced true-life police procedural. (photo insert)