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Death on the Fourth of July: The Story of a Killing, a Trial, and Hate Crime in America Hardcover – July 16, 2004

3.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On July 4, 2000, Minh Hong and his twin brother, Hung, arrived in Ocean Shores, Wash., to celebrate the holiday. When they stopped at a convenience store to buy fireworks, they were met by a group of drunken young white men—who resembled skinheads—yelling racial slurs. A fight erupted, leaving the leader of the group of white men, Chris Kinison, dead. Minh Hong was charged with manslaughter for killing Kinison, and suddenly the victim of a hate crime became the suspect in a criminal trial. Freelance journalist Neiwert, who became acquainted with the Hong family through eating at their teriyaki shop in Seattle, provides a fast-paced account of the events surrounding this altercation and Hong's trial. The circumstances surrounding the events of that day divided the town, uncovering racist feelings below the thin veneer of smalltown sociability. Neiwert weaves chapters regarding the legal aspects of hate crimes, the myths of hate crimes and the details of other well-known, and less-known, crimes, such as the killing of Matthew Shepard, into his narrative about the Hong case. Although the book often devolves into a pseudosociological treatise in these chapters, Neiwert is at his best in reporting on the details of the trial, the feelings of the families and the disruption of the community.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Ocean Shores, Washington, July 4, 2000: three Asian American visitors to this seaside town of 3,000 were set upon by a group of skinheads in a gas-station parking lot. Predictably, the assault ended in a fatality. But the victim, Christopher Kinison, was not one of the intended victims. He was, in the author's words, the "primary perpetrator." What followed was one of the more unusual hate-crime investigations police have ever encountered. Because only the attacker was killed, the authorities were put in the awkward position of investigating the case as a homicide in which the intended victims were the prime suspects. In the eyes of the law, the deceased, a bigoted young man fond of spouting white-supremacist diatribes, was the innocent victim. Neiwert, a journalist who had once worked not far from the scene of the crime, uses this case as a springboard to a discussion of a broader issue. How does the American legal system handle hate crimes? It's a vastly complicated subject, and the author handles it delicately, intelligently, and gracefully. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; First Ed.- 1st Printing edition (July 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403965013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403965011
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,194,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Miller on August 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The town's derisive nickname "Open Sores" could certainly serve as the subtitle for the book.

Out of reams of available subject matter on "hate crimes", but Neiwert chose one episode that was atypical -- the victim survived, the perpetrator didn't -- for a gripping and essay on the meaning of bias crime, and the right and wrong way the law chooses to interpret it.

I was hooked right away by an opening narrative that leads you into the lives of the Hong brothers, tourists from Seattle, who wandered into a convenience store, and then found their lives were turning into a Hitchcockian nightmare.

He borrows the basic structure of a true-crime genre -- accounts of a trial, brief bios of the lead players -- but his focus ranges widely over the way that the community, and law enforecment, simply failed to notice the trouble that was escalating.

Matters that go below the radar for those who are not targets, but which suffice to ruin lives, and turn whole communities, or even states into pariahs.

Readers of his blog ("Orcinus") know that Neiwert is paintaking with words, and is careful to parse the distinctions: since many such crimes are NOT the direct result of organized hate groups, the stereotypes ("skinheads" "rednecks") are likely as not to protect the actual perpetrators. His argument suggest better laws are only a step, but what we actually need is better training for law enforcement, and a population less disposed to give a inch to bigotry, before it erupts into violence..
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Format: Hardcover
As a former editor of a newspaper in Idaho when it was the home for Neo-Nazis, author David Neiwert brings his tremendous insight and his journalistic skill into his book.

His prose is well-written and engaging. His facts are thoroughly researched, and his positions are thoughtful and supported by his research. He is honest with his readers, shy about making generalizations and careful to avoid proselytizing. He lets his research speak for itself.

The book succeeds surprisingly well both as a primer for those new to the topic - carefully laying out the basic ideas and rationale behind hate crimes and laws that seek to deal with them - and for those who have experience in the topic.

A good read.
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Format: Paperback
Neiwert tries to be two things at once -- a storyteller as well as an advocate for hate crimes laws -- and the result is a muddled effort. He interweaves the chapters with social science discussions of hate crimes and ongoing news of the trial. In addition, he repeats himself (especially the trial portion), and the book feels padded. The story itself is no more than a long magazine article, and the characterizations of the main two actors are thin. As a courtroom drama, the story lacks suspense.
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Format: Hardcover
This is absolutely the most poorly researched and written piece of tripe I have read in recent years. From the sensationalizing and truly disgusting cover to the author's disjointed ramblings -- just rock bottom. Do not waste your reading budget by ordering this over-long opinion piece that seeks to place government in the role of thought police.

I now have a lot more sympathy for newspapers who seek to limit editorial submission links - if only someone had been able to exercise some editorial control with this piece of work.
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