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Riot by [Myers, Walter Dean]
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Riot Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Length: 192 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and up

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 7 Up—The setting is New York City, July 1863. Lincoln has just called up more troops after the devastation at Gettysburg. Tensions rise and then boil over into riots as Irish immigrants rail against the draft and direct their wrath at the city's African-American population. Fifteen-year-old Claire, daughter of a black father and white mother, finds herself at the center of the vortex. She is forced to grapple with the notion that her race has suddenly become the entirety of her identity while friends and family are pulled into different camps and a mob mentality consumes the city. The author revisits the screenplay format utilized to much acclaim in Monster (HarperCollins, 1999), yet here it serves a wholly different purpose. While the screenplay helped Monster's Steve reveal a creative identity apart from his mug shot, in Riot it gives a sense of the proportion and chaos of the times, as the camera pans across the city jumping from one incident to another, simultaneously tracking numerous characters. Myers crafts a sympathetic cast, which is excellent fodder for conversations about race and class, and the book is also a choice pick for reluctant readers who will relish both format and pacing. Once again, this master storyteller has delivered.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT END

About the Author

Walter Dean Myers is the critically acclaimed author of such celebrated novels for youth as the New York Times Best-Selling Monster; the Newbery Honor—winning Somewhere in the Darkness and Scorpions; Shooter, the basis for the 2009 film Case 219; and the Coretta Scott King Award—winning Fallen Angels and Slam.

An avid student of history, Myers collects photographs and documents on African American life up to the 1950s. His collection has been featured in both his own nonfiction and in documentaries on American history. Many pieces relating to the background of the New York City Draft Riots may be found in this volume or online at When not writing or collecting, Myers spends his time cooking, playing the flute, or attending the theater.

You may visit him online at

Product Details

  • File Size: 1080 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: EgmontUSA (May 27, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2010
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003O2SQM0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,507 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Yana V. Rodgers on October 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Intent to increase the size of the Union Army, in 1963 President Abraham Lincoln signed the first conscription act in U.S. history, authorizing the draft of all able-bodied young men into the Army. With a loophole that allowed wealthier men to avoid being drafted by paying a $300 fee, the conscription act infuriated members of the working class. In New York City, large numbers of men and some women, predominantly Irish, took to the streets and channeled their anger into looting and violence. Their violence targeted not only the upper class, but also African Americans who the Irish resented for stealing scarce jobs through their willingness to work for lower wages. The riots, which resulted in widespread destruction and brutal attacks, required military intervention before ending after four terrifying days.

Caught in the middle of these very real events are a series of fictional characters struggling to come to terms with the charged racial relations. Claire, a biracial fifteen-year-old girl, braves the violence on the streets to help her black father save a group of young orphans from the mobs bent on destroying the New York Colored Orphan Asylum. In the process she joins her best friend Priscilla, who is black, in helping the children and also in trying to find Priscilla's frail old aunt. In taking these risky actions during the height of the violence rather than stay at home, Claire tries to define her racial identity and help the people she loves.

This novel brings to life the 1963 New York Draft Riots for readers who may be less familiar with the nature of the violence and the hostile race relations. The plot highlights the role of economic principles, especially competition for jobs and racial discrimination, in serving as key triggers of the riots. Middle-grade readers raised on texting and instant messaging are likely to appreciate the screenplay format with brief scene directions and fast-paced dialogue.
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Format: Hardcover
RIOT by Walter Dean Myers tells the story of the beginning of the Civil War, and the 1863 insurgency in New York City.

President Lincoln had started a draft to gain more soldiers for the Union Army, but there was a clause in the law that allowed the wealthy to pay a three-hundred dollar fee and hire someone else to go to war in their place. In New York City, tempers exploded into a vicious race riot.

Claire is the daughter of a mixed family. Her mother is Irish and her father is black. She has been secure in her identity, but now everything is different. Black Americans are being murdered and beaten, and even a foundling home is looted and burned as the uprising turns into one of the worst race riots in American history.

The streets and Claire's neighborhood are no longer safe. And then the soldiers that are called back from Gettysburg to settle the dispute are equally brutal.

Claire is considered all black by people she considered friends and they are turning against her for that reason. She begins to question her identity. Great characters and a fast-moving plot kept me glued to the pages.

Myers has written this story in the form of a screenplay in an untraditional book, with an unblinking look at racial relations during that time period. It gave an immediacy to the action that most novel forms would not have been able to achieve. It is a very entertaining story, and I painlessly learned a lesson in American history.

Reviewed by: Grandma Bev
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Format: Hardcover
The screenplay format of this historical novel took me a little while to warm up to, but once I got to know the characters, I found this to be a fascinating and compelling story of the New York draft riots during the Civil War. The characters were believable in their language and depictions, and the way characters from different social groups interacted with one another really shed light on the biases and fears of this time period. This will be a great resource for teachers, who should find lots of opportunities for student dramatizations and other activities in the format of this book. The format, with plenty of white space and lots of action, will make it a great pick for reluctant readers, too.
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Format: Audio CD
“I just wanted to be a human being. I just wanted to be whoever I saw in the mirror, without a race or a place in life."
I wanted to like this book/play about the Civil War race riots in New York City. Maybe because it was written for Young Adults it was too simplistic for me. It's also acted out like a movie, with screen shots and camera angles which takes away a lot of your imagination in a book. I don't like being told what to look at, and who is important. I would rather find my own way.

I also found it hard to believe that a young woman, half black/half white, had never encountered racial bigotry before the riots. I would imagine that would be a day to day thing in those days, after all even the most ardent Abolitionists thought the negroes should be sent back to Africa, even though the majority had been born on American soil.

That said, I do believe this is an important story that needs to be told. The riots occurred because the poorer Irish had to sign up for the draft while the richer people could pay $300 and hire a substitute. The Irish also feared the freed slaves would take their jobs and cut wages as they were told they would work for next to nothing once freed. These were real fears that no one had addressed. I certainly could never condone the actions of the rioters but I can understand the fears that cause people to act that way.

I do recommend this book to anyone that wants to learn what life was like in New York City during the Civil War and why such riots occurred.
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