In the Mail: The Savage City

The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T. J. English

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In Manhattan in August 1963, two white women were hacked to death in a crime the tabloids would call the Career Girls Murders. The police picked up a near-blind 19-year-old black youth and spent hours pressuring him into confessing to the crime. George Whitmore would spend the next decade fighting the setup as police and prosecutors persisted in what they knew to be a miscarriage of justice. That same decade was the most violent in the history of New York City, with escalating racial tension between the police and black nationalist groups. Acclaimed journalist English profiles Whitmore, as well as Bill Phillips, a brazenly corrupt second-generation NYPD cop, and Dhoruba bin Wahad, a gangbanger turned Black Panther, to present an epic look at the racial animus, fear, and hatred that characterized that troubled decade.
Drawing on interviews with former police and prosecutors, activists, hustlers, and journalists, English recounts a time of growing and visceral hostility between a police department steeped in corruption and a besieged black community that exploded in violence. He chronicles the rise of the Black Panther Party in New York and the Knapp Commission investigation of police corruption that was later depicted in the movies Serpico and Prince of the City. Through the lives of three ostensibly unrelated men, English peels back the underlying turmoil that led to the violent period and the unaddressed social ills that remain to this day.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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