The crime-infested intersection of West Fayette and Monroe Streets is well-known--and cautiously avoided--by most of Baltimore. But this notorious corner's 24-hour open-air drug market provides the economic fuel for a dying neighborhood. David Simon, an award-winning author and crime reporter, and Edward Burns, a 20-year veteran of the urban drug war, tell the chilling story of this desolate crossroad.
Through the eyes of one broken family--two drug-addicted adults and their smart, vulnerable 15-year-old son, DeAndre McCollough, Simon and Burns examine the sinister realities of inner cities across the country and unflinchingly assess why law enforcement policies, moral crusades, and the welfare system have accomplished so little. This extraordinary book is a crucial look at the price of the drug culture and the poignant scenes of hope, caring, and love that astonishingly rise in the midst of a place America has abandoned.
In the authors' note, Simon (Homicide) and Burns, a retired patrolman and detective with the Baltimore Police Department, encapsulate their year-long (1992-1993) experience on a West Baltimore street corner interviewing drug addicts and watching children grow up too fast. They masterfully present a theater of the drug war as they follow four generations of the McCullough family, concentrating on 15-year-old DeAndre, who attempts to rise above the mistakes of his heroin- and cocaine-addicted parents but fails to escape the pressures of the street. Yet his story allows exploration of other issues, such as the history of the corner's drug activities and the attitudes of the police, the social workers and the high-school teachers who have all but lost hope for the area's children. Part family neighborhood portrait, part political-social analysis, the book conveys the feeling of helplessness of those who awake every morning thinking only of their "next blast" and the arrogance of those who condemn them for it. The loss of innocence chronicled here is summed up by a line from one of DeAndre's poems: "Hungry for knowledge, but afraid to eat." Photos not seen by PW.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Heartbreaking and eye opening
I thought I knew how badly the war on drugs was destroying lives. Then I read this book. It’s such a human look at the lives of those affected by drug addiction and drug culture. I lost my mom to an overdose when I was 23, and these themes hit very close to home. It was an emotional experience reading it, but even more importantly it’s inspired me to start volunteering in my community and do what small part I can to try and fix things. RIP Miss Ella.
The Movie HBO
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