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The Corner Hardcover – September 2, 1997
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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.
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The stories don't leave you fulfilled at the end so don't expect anything uplifting besides a little gimme here and there. If anything, you'll be outraged at the pure insanity of this life. This life plays out 20 years later in every major city in America. We've learned nothing as a society but we know what needs to be done. I wonder if this book will still be as relevant in another 20 years?
When I read this the first time, I thought it was one of the most powerful, important books I had read. Now many years later I found it just as riveting.
I wondered if it was still accurate. Simultaneously a series in the NY Times on life in Chicago told the exact same story 25 years later
This a must read.
In any case... The primary purpose of this review is to reiterate the opinion of a 1997 reviewer: if you have not done so, you should read "Tally's Corner" by Elliot Liebow. Liebow wrote about an inner-city corner in Washington D.C. 30 years before Simon and Burns. The juxtaposition of the two books gives enormous emphasis to the rather horrid (though unfortunately not surprising) changes that occurred in those 30 years. Which, interestingly, include the entire span of The War on Drugs.