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Show Me a Hero: A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption Hardcover – March, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 331 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T); 1 edition (March 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316088056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316088053
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"The pipe bomb was small as pipe bombs go, but the explosion could be heard from several blocks away--a sharp bang as rows of factory-fresh ceramic tiles shattered into a pile of razor-edged rubble. Neighbors who were drifting off to sleep sat upright, awake. Family members who were preparing for bed looked at each other first with questions, then with certainty they had the answer. 'I guess somebody is trying to blow up the new housing,' one man joked to his wife. But it wasn't a joke. That's exactly what someone was trying to do."

In 1988, when a federal judge ordered the city of Yonkers, New York, to integrate more thoroughly its low-income housing throughout the city, it set off a bitter dispute that would consume the town for the next five years. Among those caught in the controversy was the city's 28-year-old mayor, Nicholas Wasicsko, who had used the issue to his advantage during his campaign and found that he would never be able to escape it, either during or after his administration. Veteran New York Times journalist Lisa Belkin focuses not on the abstract "sides" of the integration debate, but on the people who take those sides. It's that personal perspective that makes her account most worth reading.

From Publishers Weekly

In the late 1980s, the city of Yonkers, N.Y., made national headlines because of a bitter battle waged by many of its residents and political leaders against a federal court-ordered public housing plan. The plan compelled Yonkers to build public housing in the predominantly white east-side districts of the city. The heated opposition to the plan convulsed the city, which complied with the court order only when court-imposed fines threatened to consume the entire city budget. Belkin, who covered the story for the New York Times, follows the housing battle through the eyes of its participants: fearful white residents of the east side; black public housing tenants anxious to escape the misery of the west-side projects; Oscar Newman, the housing consultant and architect who designed the new town houses; and Nick Wasicsko, the young mayor of Yonkers who courageously confronted his own core constituency and tried to get the city to accept the plan (and who, five years later, out of office and out of prospects, shot himself). In her effort to interweave so many personal perspectives, Belkin sometimes loses her focus on the key public policies at stake. She does, however, enable readers to feel the hopes and fears of both the homeowners, who felt that their neighborhoods and property values were threatened by the housing plan, and the disadvantaged public housing tenants, who were seeking redress for years of discrimination and simply wanted a safe place to call home. Belkin's gritty book is a vivid slice of urban politics, racial tension and the difficulties inherent in realizing the American dream.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I've never written one of these before, but I just read that reader from New England and I had to respond. I think we read two different books. The one I read captured the chaos and heartbreak of the city I have lived in all my life. I was at a lot of the meetings and clashes that fill this book, and reading Belkin I felt like I was there all over again. More important, I learned so much about the behind the scenes wrangling that I didn't know. One dimensional? No way. She peered into people's souls. Did she streamline? Yes. And as a reader, I thank her. The point was the essence of a city in chaos, and she painted that portrait in gritty and riveting detail. It wasn't her job to make sure everyone in town got their name in her book. As for Hollywood, I don't think they'll have the guts to make this movie. There are no pat happy endings here and no easy answers. Just a story that I couldn't put down.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is a well written book that encourages thinking about important social issues. The City of Yonkers was forced by the courts to desegregate housing after years of discriminating against minorities. The decision was made to have small groups of cluster homes scattered throughout white neighborhoods. All hell broke loose in the white communities after the court decision. Whites feared a minority presence and a decline in property values and fought viciously against the homes. Poor families hoped for a safer, better place to live and raise their families. A balanced and complex story, well wrought, with an interesting cast of characters from politicians to single mothers desperate to move their families to safer neighborhoods. All the answers about the future of public housing aren't here, but certainly a clearer concept of the issues involved, from personal to political, can be gathered from this fascinating story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Belkin's literary eye and keen observational humor made what could have been a sociology lesson into a gripping drama. The forced integration of Yonkers doesn't sound like the stuff of great storytelling - but I was hooked.
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Format: Hardcover
I was reading a housing law textbook that casually mentioned that a judge held a city in contempt, and the city nearly went bankrupt before complying. The legal issues involved are fascinating (can a judge force a lawmaker to vote a certain way?) so I picked up this book to learn more.

This book was phenomenal. It told every part of the story (the human stories, the housing issues, the legal battles) exceptionally well. I wish more legal and housing policy writers wrote about law and housing this clearly. It was enjoyable as a reader to have a balance of big picture issues in the city (city politics, legal battles) but also combined with the day-to-day realities of what regular citizens were dealing with.

It's a fascinating tale, and I'd recommend to both experts in the field and regular readers looking for a great book.
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