Rolling Stone contributor Howard Kohn applies a novelistic touch to his depiction of the lives of several black and white residents of Prince Georges County, Maryland, a stable, middle-class, predominately African American enclave just outside Washington, D.C. Kohn's prose, although rooted in a noble effort, tends toward the melodramatic, especially in his portrayals of one couple's interracial romance and a black lawyer's politically incorrect defense of the daughter of a white policeman who killed her African American boyfriend. --Eugene Holley, Jr.
From Publishers Weekly
Kohn's (Who Killed Karen Silkwood?) examination of the fruits of the civil rights struggle in one community has produced a narrative that's as provocative as it is powerful. Although it reads like fiction, it is filled with real-life ironies. The subject is Prince George's County, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C., and its fascinating, but less than idyllic, transformation from a white working-class haven into what the New York Times Magazine called "the closest thing to utopia that black, middle-class families can find in America." Neighbors live the contradiction of a new order. Bruce and Camilla are teenagers who grow to adulthood and come to terms with their interracial love relationship. Political boss Mike Miller dukes it out with Sue Mills, an anti-busing champion, and Gloria Lawlah, a NAACP veteran, for the heart and soul of the changing community and a static Democratic Party. The Stricklers, a white couple, spend a lifetime tweaking racial barriers and welcoming black neighbors to the community while raising a color-blind daughter. Dr. Gordon, Bruce's father, treats wounded blacks, but doesn't necessarily like them, even while they deal with him fondly. Well-to-do black teenagers mimic gangsta dress and attitude. Kohn brilliantly weaves together these many divergent stories into one larger narrative that is more about social "integration" than about political "desegregation." What happens, he asks, when we're forced together in the confines of a community? There is no solution here; rather, Kohn gives us heady questions and unfinished answers, all beautifully recounted.
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