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Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence Paperback – September 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Revised edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080704461X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807044612
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A searing memoir . . . Canada’s blunt observations are as refreshing as they are bold.”
—Paula Woods, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Geoffrey Canada is one of this country’s genuine heroes. His personal meditation on America’s culture of violence is a beacon of hope for our humanity.”
—Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage
 
“Canada has never lost touch with the child within himself or with the fears of the children around him struggling to reach adulthood in the violent streets of America.”
—Marian Wright Edelman, author of The Measure of Our Success

“Canada takes us on a powerful journey. . . . He is a man of hope and a wonderful storyteller.”
—Henry Hampton, executive producer, Eyes on the Prize

"Among the reformers in “Superman,” Canada emerges as the brightest star: His blend of intelligence, charisma, and moral urgency is impossible to resist. As the founder and the guiding hand of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Canada is engaged in a vastly ambitious social-development project, an attempt to transform 97 hardscrabble square blocks of the city with a comprehensive set of services for the poor, from a “baby college” for new and expectant parents to two charter schools—though he is no charter purist."—New York Magazine

“One of the best books I’ve ever read in my life. I urge people to go and find it. It’s fantastically insightful.”—Steve Levitt, Freakonomics

About the Author

Geoffrey Canada is the president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit, community-based organization deemed “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time” by the New York Times Magazine. Jonathan Kozol called him, “One of the few authentic heroes of New York and one of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation,” and Oprah Winfrey simply refers to him as “an angel from God.” Canada is featured in Davis Guggenheim’s documentary Waiting for Superman.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 41 customer reviews
Geoffrey Canada is one of my heroes.
Michelle Dunn
I highly recommend this book for those of you concerned about children and youth growing up in violence and chaos.
Kay Dunlap
My son used this book for his summer reading assignment and he really liked the book.
Beau Stoioff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ari Melman on May 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Fist Stick Knife Gun gives a first hand look at the culture of violence in American ghetto communities. How boys are trained to fight from very young ages (Geoff starts when 4 years old). Every boy on the block is ranked in the pecking order by fighting success, and those who don't want to fight are made example of or targeted. Heart, courage, and fighting skills are what define you - literacy or rationality have no place in the pecking order. As you move from the block to elementary school to junior high, the pecking orders are restructured to deal with new people, and each time, the violence escalates.

Kids would come out after elementary school for a fight of the day. Often, the fighters wouldn't know they were picked to fight until they were pulled into the circle. The older boys oversaw and promoted fights in the younger kids, forcing them to fight so that they wouldn't get their asses kicked later in life. The intensity and randomness of surviving school made education the least of their worries.

Gangs form, often among people on the block who trust each other, in order to teach the young to fight and maintain peace in their immediate circles. The war-hardened teach newcomers the ways of the street - never give up, never rat out, never run away. Preventative action in one neighborhood but another will fail because it will jeopardize those kids status and safety when they go to school.

Geoffrey Canada gives a painfully real look at how his childhood was shaped by violence, violence that kills and maims thousands of children a year, and strips away educational priorities for the majority.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Aragon VINE VOICE on July 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book reminds me of This Is the House that Crack Built. It is an honest at times heart-breaking account of growing up quickly in the Bronx in the 60s. I'm happy to know that the author has continued to use his powers for good as a mentor and community activist. He is a community leader and in a sense a first-responder.

This adapted graphic novel allows a new generation of readers to learn from his past, his story. This book is perfect for use in the middle to high school or college classroom in a variety of classes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading "Whatever It Takes" about the Harlem Children's Zone, I wanted to read more about its founder. This memoir explains how Canada's own experiences growing up poor, on a dangerous street in a NYC ghetto have helped shape his life and his approach to building HCZ. He describes his education - both in school and in the streets, and addresses the escalation of violence in these poverty-stricken communities. Though I think he'd love to get guns off the streets, he seems very realistic about the likelihood of that happening, pointing out that current gun control programs like buybacks won't work. He also describes the unintended consequences of "tough on crime" laws like mandatory sentencing. I was never shy about driving through bad neighborhoods in Chicago, and had my own strategies to deal with threats (stopping at red lights was optional for me, in some circumstances), but I now have a much better understanding of what he's dealing with in trying to lift families out of poverty and get their children safely through college. This book is essential reading for anybody who wants to work in a field addressing these problems, from social workers to educators to politicians, and all would do well to examine carefully what Canada is finding works - and what doesn't.
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By luis hernandez on July 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Happy with my order
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By Dan Roller on July 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a compelling perspective on what is needed to change the course of violence among the urban poor, and on the courage required to deliver.
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By Ruth Stewart-curley on May 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am reading this with my eighth grade ESL/LA class and the are loving it. I have gotten the best conversations and writing out of them that I have had all year. I highly recommend it. Pairs well with Black Boy.
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By Ben on January 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
New and interesting view on this epidemic in our inner cities and the proposed solutions. I recommend reading it if you've taken the issue for granted.
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By Pied Piper on December 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A story that needs to be heard! Eye-opening! It' a must read for anyone who works with youth and children.
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