This startling look at desperate, drug-addled inner-city lives ranks as one of the grittiest--and best--examinations of underclass America available. Like Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here and Leon Dash's Rosa Lee, The Corner shines light on a horrific subculture of addiction, crime, dependency, and violence. Authors David Simon (who wrote Homicide, the book that inspired the TV series of the same name) and Edward Burns (a former cop) are muckraking reporters who operate in the finest tradition of American journalism. They spent an entire year on the corner of Fayette and Monroe in West Baltimore, getting to know its open-air drug market and its people. Although the authors present strong evidence that the so-called war on drugs cannot be won, The Corner has no political agenda. It is simply a powerful testament to the bleak situation confronting many urban neighborhoods. At once deeply unsettling and extremely rewarding, this humane book deserves a wide audience.
From Library Journal
This portrayal of a year in drug-crazed west Baltimore will satisfy neither readers looking for a perceptive witness to the urban crisis nor those in search of social analysis. Simon (Homicide, LJ 6/1/91), a crime reporter, and Burns, a Baltimore police veteran and public school teacher, mask their presence in the scene with an omniscient style that strains credibility, and the chronological framework blunts the impact of their most compelling themes. The authors salute the courageous but futile efforts of individual parents, educators, and police officers but deny the possibility of a social solution to the devastation they acknowledge is rooted in social policy. A more compelling account is Our America: Life and Death (LJ 6/1/97) on the South Side of Chicago, based on interviews conducted by 13-year-old public housing residents LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman in 1993. For larger public libraries. (Photos not seen.. -?Paula Dempsey, Loyola Univ., Chicago Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
this book took me back to an area i grew-up in and escaped from in my early 20s. I've known many persons such as the characters in this book. They are real and do exist unfortantly. I am now employed and daily working with the court system in Baltimore, Maryland where I grew up. I know that some of these characters lives have not changed for the better at least because i've seen them in court. I know that the areas are worse than before because I visit them to do home visits for my job, and I know that the police still perform as they did when the book was written, and Baltimore's crime rate remains the same. Sad as it is, ther are still no real solutions to the problem that the arthors wrote about, and the corners are still in existance, but the players, or shall I say victims are becoming younger everyday. The faces are new and the conditions are worse. The Corner, in my opinion is a powerful story. Unlike some readers, I at times had to but it down, collect myself, and then pick it up at a latter time. To be in it, but not of it was hard and always is. To see that someone else has taken the time to witness it and but it into story is heartwrenching. I know these characters, feel for them, cry for them, and each day I pray for them.
The Corner is one of those stories that stops us out-to-save-the-world types in our tracks. What do you do with a situation like this? Police, politicians, charitable organizations, treatment centers, educators, and tireless optimistic reformers seem to be completely ineffective throughout the book. The book has its bright spots: when someone goes into rehab, when a long-term user leaves the corner for good, when one of the kids returns to school. But everyone knows, and the reader begins to have a sense, that the changes don't last long and tragedy will strike again, so why hope?But the book is much more than a recounting of failed social programs and policing. The Corner is the story of real people with real desires and dreams. All have dreams beyond the corner, but none have a way to get there. Some have fallen from successful pasts, and some were born into the strange West Baltimore economy of buying, selling, and using. The authors looked closely enough to know that Gary was once a successful businessman, that Fran was once planning to attend college, that Blue is an accomplished artist. But to most of America, they are faceless drug addicts who should know better, who should clean themselves up and get out of there.As the yearlong account unfolds, it is clear that getting "out of there" is not a realistic option. Few have any support system to speak of, and the government programs designed to help don't always-even if someone manages to navigate the endless bureaucracy. In the end, the corner triumphs in all but a few cases. The Corner is an eye-opening story that asks us to become aware of the people caught in situations like these in inner-city America.Read more ›
I am a white suburban woman who began to read this book to learn about a life that is very different from my own and because I wanted to learn about the IV drug culture, having a cousin who shot drugs in NYC for 15 years. This book should be read by anyone who thinks that have the answer to the ills of the city, or education, or healthcare, or poverty or whatever. They will quickly see that the problems that plague our inner cities are much like trying to treat a cancer in the human body: you can't try and single out or isolate one specific problem area and try to fix it. You need to look at the entire system, taking into account the interconnectedness of these problems when you try and come up with a solution.It is naive and utterly foolish to think that you can isolate the issues of the city and solve them independently- you can't. I urge anyone who has any influence over public policy of any kind to spend a few days and read this book. It will forever alter your view on how to "fix" the problems of neighborhoods like these and make you realize you are up against something that is much bigger than it appears. And policy makers: it is not as easy as as having a war on drugs. You need to start by bringing a thriving economic job base back into our cities so people have the opportunity to become meaningfully employed and can try and have a chance at life. When you strip away one's economic opportunities- you are cutting off their blood supply. It is just that simple. A MUST READ FOR ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE USA!
This is one of my top ten non-fiction books of all time. Here is why: First, it is well-written and intriguing. There is little to no academic jargon to wade through. It is a plain spoken book about the realities of inner-city life. It is not difficult to read in a literary sense, but certainly in an ethical and moral sense. This brings me to the second reason why I found it to be such an important book: It puts a face on the experiences of poor minorities living in urban areas. I'm 23 and I've been working in inner-city communities since I was 15. When I hear people talk disparagingly about minorities, inner-city youth, single moms, "welfare moms," my heart breaks, and in many ways, I am also angry that people talks so much about a life they know so little about. I found that this book accurately put a face on the people who are so often referred to as one statistics or another (related to drugs, single moms, incarceration, welfare). There was no glorification and little over-victimization of the people in the book and their experiences as poor, black, and affected by drugs and the underground economy. This book should be required reading for all Americans who wish to learn more about and develop informed opinions about poor, inner-city communities and the people who live there. I find it particularly relevant to those interested in drug laws and sentencing, as well as access to drug treatment. I think that this would also be a very helpful book for people who work in urban areas or are planning to someday (social work, education, ministry). The book leaves very big questions to be answered by the reader. How do I judge the people in this book? What would I do if I grew up in such a community? How do I go forth from here? A very powerful book.