The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

  • by Jeff Hobbs
  • Narrated by George Newbern
  • 13 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets - and of one's own nature - when he returns home.
When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn't get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting" in Yale, and at home.
Through an honest rendering of Robert's relationships - with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers - The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It's about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds - the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It's about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It's about reaching one's greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It's about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A beautiful, elegiac remembrance of a friend

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not possible, but yes.


Any additional comments?

Gorgeously written, deeply felt memoir of the author's Yale roommate, the ironically named Robert Peace. Whether he was 'Newark-proofing' himself as DeShaun or 'fronting' as Yalie Rob, Peace was a brilliant, engaging, profoundly conflicted young man. Author Jeff Hobbs writes as though he were born to tell his friend's story. The narrator George Newbern is one of the best I've heard on Audible. No embellishments; just a real understanding of and appreciation for the author's prose.

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- Rudy

Everyone Should Read this Book

What made the experience of listening to The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace the most enjoyable?

Robert Peace, the main character, is charismatic, driven, focused, and flawed. HIs should've been a life of steady ascension, despite a tough start in life, and instead he ended up driving in literal circles. The book functions not only as a tale of triumph and loss, but also as an object lesson in the problems poor kids face in improving their status/lot in life. And the book does it without wallowing, and in beautiful prose that sidles up to poetry.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace?

There was no single moment: as this tale is a series of small moments, of how tiny hiccups--which would be totally surmountable by the middle class, and even the lower middle class--are the stuff that derails lives and destroys opportunities, for those who live below the poverty line. But it is not all tragic, in it, Robert's extraordinariness shines through and there joy he experienced in his life is conveyed here too.


Have you listened to any of George Newbern’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I thought he was wonderful, really excellent. The quality of this narration would make me seek out his other projects.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I only stopped because I fell asleep.


Any additional comments?

I think anyone who is curious about why poverty is ingrained as a seeming unovercomable obstacle in this country should read this book.

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- oldmanwagner

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-23-2014
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio