AN AMERICAN SUMMER Love and Death in Chicago By Alex Kotlowitz
On July 22, 2012, Darren Easterling was murdered in Park Forest, a mostly African-American suburb south of Chicago. Two days later, the local newspaper published a short article, headlined “Man Shot to Death in Park Forest Had Drug, Weapons Conviction,” that highlighted his criminal history. The story did not directly blame Easterling for his own homicide, but the implication was unmistakable: This was a man who lived and died among coldblooded killers. He got what he should have expected, if not what he deserved.
Easterling’s mother, Lisa, tells a different story. In high school, her athletic son had been a football player and an avid fan of documentary films. He wrote sweet birthday cards and letters. He had two children, and was an attentive, affectionate father. Lisa was all-too-aware of his dark side. Years before, she had kicked him out of her house for dealing drugs. He had done time for carrying a gun. Lisa had long worried that he was heading for disaster, but she also saw how he could turn things around. Darren’s death, in a drug deal that went haywire, sent her into a spiral of guilt, shame and sadness. When Darren’s killer went on trial, Lisa wanted to forgive him and ask the court for leniency, but that proved wrenching, too.
Stories like Lisa’s and Darren’s, told in dispatches covering three months during 2013, are the lifeblood of “An American Summer,” the journalist Alex Kotlowitz’s account of reckless brutality in the Chicago area’s impoverished, segregated neighborhoods. Although the narrative is organized around events from one summer, Kotlowitz spent four years immersed in the grim worlds where homicide is rampant. His reporting spans that period, and beyond.
[ This book was one of our most anticipated titles of March. See the full list here. ]
Like Kotlowitz’s now classic 1991 book, “There Are No Children Here,” about two boys growing up in a Chicago housing project, “An American Summer” forgoes analysis and instead probes the human damage that stems from exposure to violence. What he finds is important. For instance, a destructive myth about people who live in Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods is that they’ve grown hardened, numb to the atrocities that saturate daily life. Kotlowitz confesses to believing this, at least temporarily, in 1998, when Pharoah, a main character of “There Are No Children Here,” seems unaffected by the murder of his taxi driver, which he witnesses up close. When Kotlowitz asks how he’s doing, Pharoah replies flatly: “O.K. Why?”
This exchange helps motivate Kotlowitz’s investigation into how people “carry” violence, whether they are perpetrators, victims, witnesses or merely associated with those involved. Kotlowitz interviewed roughly 200 people, and his expansive cast of characters includes social workers, police officers, political officials, a beat reporter and convicted killers, as well as dozens of ordinary people — children and adults whose lives have been shredded by bullets and guns.
Pharoah, he reports in “An American Summer,” had been so traumatized by the shooting he witnessed that, some two decades later, he can’t get it out of his mind. Over lunch in a restaurant, Pharoah hyperventilates and his eyes grow wide with fright as he tells Kotlowitz what happened. “It’s like I’m there,” he says, crouching down as if to take cover. Far from being inured to bloodshed, Pharoah, and others who live in America’s most dangerous neighborhoods, experience the world like war veterans. As Kotlowitz puts it, “The violence is in his bones.”
It’s deeper in Thomas, who grew up in Englewood, a rough, depopulated neighborhood on the South Side. Thomas was unlucky enough to live on 70th Place, a street so treacherous that some call it the “block of death,” and to attend Harper High School, where, during his junior year, 21 students and recent graduates were wounded by gunfire and seven were shot and killed. When he was 10, his 11-year-old friend and neighbor, Nugget, was murdered at her own birthday party, and Thomas saw “her brain matter oozing out of her skull onto her braids.” Months earlier, Thomas’s older brother Leon got shot while playing on the sidewalk. Leon couldn’t move his legs (and never would again), so Thomas sat with him, urging him to hold on until the ambulance arrived.
That was elementary school. After that, Thomas would see a boy shot in the face, a friend shot in the leg, two men who had just been murdered in a car. He joined a gang, or “crew,” called 7-0 for protection, de rigueur for boys on his block, but feared it wouldn’t help. In June 2012, Thomas and his good friend Shakaki were hanging out on the front porch of a house near his when he spotted a hooded boy from a rival crew running toward them, gun in hand. Moments later Shakaki was flat on the porch’s wooden slats, clutching her burning stomach. Eight hours later, she was dead.
In recent years, social scientists have made great progress identifying neighborhood-level conditions that make violent crime more likely, from abandoned homes and empty lots to weak community organizations and widespread distrust of the police. As the sociologist Andrew V. Papachristos has written, the gap between Chicago’s lowest and highest homicide neighborhoods has expanded dramatically since 2006, owing to factors in the local social environment. Kotlowitz, however, depicts the question of what causes urban crime to rise and fall as essentially unanswerable. “Anyone who tells you they know is lying.”
This is a curious position, especially given the trend (hardly mentioned in “An American Summer”) that criminologists consider the most important fact about urban violence in recent decades: Most American cities have experienced far less of it than anyone predicted, and national experts feel more confident than ever about what works. Last year, for instance, New York City had the lowest homicide rate in nearly 70 years, and since 1990 the homicide rates in Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington, D.C., have dropped more than 70 percent.
Chicago, and a handful of hyper-segregated, postindustrial cities, including St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit and Memphis, have failed to achieve such impressive numbers. Yet in 2018, Chicago’s homicide rate was roughly two-thirds of what it was in 1990. Chicago’s reputation as second to none for moral chaos — “citizens killing citizens, children killing children, police killing young black men” — is due mainly to its population size. President Trump, who called Chicago a “war zone” and threatened to send in the National Guard, and Spike Lee, who named his 2015 film “Chi-Raq,” have helped make Chicago the national symbol of murderous violence. Kotlowitz, despite good intentions, has reinforced this view.
Of course, the fact that most American cities, and most Chicago neighborhoods, are now much safer than they were 20 years ago does not make the violence that Kotlowitz documents any less devastating or significant. “An American Summer” is a powerful indictment of a city and a nation that have failed to protect their most vulnerable residents, or to register the depth of their pain.
It is also a case study in the constraints of a purely narrative approach to the problems of inequality and social suffering. Kotlowitz aims to tell unforgettable stories about the afterlife of homicide, how it penetrates the minds, bodies and communities of those it touches. He succeeds. You are nauseated, outraged, haunted, sad. But when you put the book down you are paralyzed. You hear the president call for military intervention, the mayor for better schools, the pastor for church. You have no answers or explanations. You have no idea what to do.B:
财神心水论坛经典127979【卫】【娥】【眨】【了】【眨】【眼】【睛】，【并】【没】【有】【将】【沈】【老】【爷】【的】【呵】【斥】【放】【在】【心】【上】，【还】【打】【开】【了】【小】【抽】【屉】，【从】【里】【面】【找】【到】【一】【串】【檀】【木】【佛】【珠】，【放】【在】【手】【中】【轻】【轻】【的】【捻】【动】。 【沈】【家】【管】【事】【不】【停】【地】【挣】【扎】【着】，【眼】【睛】【中】【仿】【佛】【要】【冒】【出】【火】【来】。 【卫】【娥】【看】【向】【沈】【老】【爷】：“【沈】【老】【爷】【说】【是】【要】【远】【离】【争】【斗】，【暗】【地】【里】【却】【让】【管】【事】【偷】【偷】【摸】【摸】【打】【听】【消】【息】，【还】【买】【通】【狱】【卒】【前】【去】【大】【牢】【里】【送】【饭】，【多】【亏】【我】【留】【了】【心】，【这】【才】
【咸】【宁】【城】【加】【了】【城】【门】【岗】【哨】，【入】【城】【盘】【查】【的】【尤】【其】【之】【严】。 【卓】【沅】【沅】【从】【小】【捕】【头】【处】【听】【说】【大】【盗】【丁】【北】【重】【出】【江】【湖】，【已】【在】【涂】【舟】【杀】【害】【了】【不】【少】【人】，【不】【知】【现】【在】【正】【逃】【往】【何】【处】。【她】【由】【此】【坐】【立】【不】【安】，【生】【怕】【有】【恶】【人】【找】【上】【卓】【家】，【伤】【了】【阿】【爹】【并】【几】【位】【哥】【哥】【嫂】【嫂】。 【直】【到】【五】【哥】【卓】【逸】【飞】【书】【来】【信】，【道】【家】【中】【一】【切】【安】【康】，【涂】【舟】【风】【雨】【已】【过】。【卓】【沅】【沅】【才】【终】【于】【放】【下】【心】【来】，【看】【信】【上】【所】【言】，
“【嗯】，”【左】【司】【寒】【走】【过】【去】，“【挑】【衣】【服】【做】【什】【么】？【下】【午】【要】【出】【门】？” 【自】【从】【慕】【容】【若】【薇】【怀】【孕】【以】【后】，【左】【司】【寒】【对】【于】【她】【的】【行】【踪】【管】【束】【的】【更】【严】【了】，【生】【怕】【她】【遇】【到】【危】【险】。 “【不】【是】【啊】……”【慕】【容】【若】【薇】【放】【下】【衣】【服】，【大】【眼】【睛】【就】【那】【样】【水】【汪】【汪】【的】【看】【向】【他】，“【明】【天】【不】【是】【要】【去】【领】【证】【嘛】，【我】【当】【然】【要】【打】【扮】【的】【美】【美】【的】！【你】【说】【刚】【才】【那】【件】【鹅】【黄】【色】【的】【衣】【服】【好】【看】？” 【左】【司】
【孟】【瑶】【和】【李】【菁】【见】【到】【从】【箱】【子】【里】【走】【出】【来】【的】【那】【人】【之】【后】，【齐】【齐】【吃】【了】【一】【惊】，【脸】【上】【的】【神】【色】【顿】【时】【变】【得】【和】【孟】【璋】【一】【般】。 【孟】【璋】【心】【中】【忐】【忑】【不】【已】，【嘴】【唇】【轻】【轻】【颤】【动】，【心】【虚】【道】：“【阿】【月】，【你】【怎】【么】【在】【这】【里】？” 【只】【见】【阿】【月】【眼】【里】【噙】【着】【泪】，【咬】【着】【嘴】【唇】【一】【言】【不】【发】。 【孟】【瑶】【见】【此】【情】【景】，【知】【道】【方】【才】【的】【谈】【话】【她】【全】【都】【已】【经】【听】【到】【了】，【只】【能】【无】【奈】【的】【叹】【了】【口】【气】，【仍】【是】【小】【声】【问】财神心水论坛经典127979【陆】【秋】【生】【在】【这】【行】【摸】【爬】【滚】【打】【这】【么】【多】【年】，【自】【然】【听】【得】【出】【吴】【磊】【凡】【语】【气】【当】【中】【自】【带】【的】【一】【股】【优】【越】【感】，【作】【为】【一】【个】【时】【刻】【关】【注】【娱】【乐】【圈】【动】【态】【的】【人】。 【他】【比】【廖】【书】【浩】【这】【个】【假】【娱】【乐】【圈】【的】【人】【要】【了】【解】【这】【一】【行】【人】【的】【心】【态】，【前】【期】【是】【看】【钱】，【看】【人】，【不】【一】【定】【看】【本】【事】。 【知】【道】【廖】【书】【浩】【肯】【定】【不】【了】【解】【这】【位】【名】【为】【吴】【磊】【凡】【的】【人】。 【他】【拿】【出】【手】【机】，【偷】【偷】【打】【字】，【发】【给】【廖】【书】【浩】：【书】【浩】
【古】【寒】【珊】【的】【身】【躯】【中】【涌】【现】【出】【滔】【天】【的】【元】【气】，【那】【元】【气】【落】【在】【虚】【空】【之】【上】【便】【是】【直】【接】【化】【为】【了】【恐】【怖】【的】【寒】【潮】。 【无】【数】【的】【寒】【潮】【宛】【如】【风】【暴】【一】【般】【席】【卷】【在】【古】【寒】【珊】【的】【身】【躯】【四】【周】，【一】【股】【股】【恐】【怖】【的】【寒】【意】，【让】【得】【四】【周】【的】【虚】【空】【都】【是】【直】【接】【变】【成】【了】【一】【片】【冰】【霜】【世】【界】。 【秦】【野】【身】【躯】【四】【周】【不】【断】【的】【环】【绕】【着】【淡】【淡】【的】【金】【色】【异】【火】【火】【光】，【此】【刻】【秦】【野】【的】【目】【光】【也】【是】【紧】【紧】【的】【看】【着】【古】【寒】【珊】【出】【手】：
“【夸】【你】【还】【不】【高】【兴】【了】，【我】【难】【得】【夸】【人】【一】【句】【呢】。” 【蝶】【王】【显】【然】【是】【不】【怕】【挨】【打】，【竟】【还】【认】【真】【地】【端】【详】【起】【卫】【长】【琴】【的】【扮】【相】，“【这】【打】【扮】【真】【的】【如】【同】【仙】【子】【一】【般】，【出】【门】【一】【趟】【必】【然】【艳】【压】【群】【芳】……【干】【什】【么】！” 【他】【话】【说】【到】【一】【半】，【卫】【长】【琴】【便】【忍】【不】【住】【上】【前】【来】【踹】【了】。 “【长】【琴】【别】【跟】【他】【一】【般】【见】【识】，【他】【就】【是】【嘴】【欠】。”【顾】【珏】【清】【拽】【住】【卫】【长】【琴】【的】【胳】【膊】，“【听】【我】【的】【别】【打】，
【工】【作】【辞】【了】【后】，【经】【过】【一】【系】【列】【复】【杂】【的】【经】【过】，【荔】【栀】【决】【定】【去】【考】【个】【教】【师】【资】【格】【证】。 【这】【俩】【月】【的】【时】【间】【都】【在】【学】【数】【学】，【说】【出】【来】【你】【可】【能】【不】【信】，【虽】【然】【荔】【栀】【打】【算】【考】【的】【是】【初】【中】【教】【师】【资】【格】【证】，【但】【是】【高】【中】【数】【学】，【甚】【至】【大】【学】【高】【等】【数】【学】【都】【是】【考】【试】【内】【容】。【而】【且】【就】【算】【是】【这】，【也】【并】【非】【考】【试】【的】【全】【部】【内】【容】。。 【经】【过】【两】【个】【月】【的】【思】【考】，【荔】【栀】【确】【实】【也】【想】【过】【太】【监】，【换】【个】【马】【甲】