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Publisher's Summary

Cops, politicians, and ordinary people are afraid of black men. The result is the Chokehold: laws and practices that treat every African American man like a thug. In this explosive new book, an African American former federal prosecutor shows that the system is working exactly the way it's supposed to. Black men are always under watch, and police violence is widespread - all with the support of judges and politicians.
In his no-holds-barred style, Butler, whose scholarship has been featured on 60 Minutes, uses new data to demonstrate that white men commit the majority of violent crime in the United States. For example, a white woman is ten times more likely to be raped by a white male acquaintance than be the victim of a violent crime perpetrated by a black man. Butler also frankly discusses the problem of black on black violence and how to keep communities safer - without relying as much on police.
Chokehold powerfully demonstrates why current efforts to reform law enforcement will not create lasting change. Butler's controversial recommendations about how to crash the system, and when it's better for a black man to plead guilty - even if he's innocent - are sure to be game-changers in the national debate about policing, criminal justice, and race relations.
©2017 Paul Butler (P)2017 Brilliance Audio. Published by arrangement with The New Press (
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Andrew on 12-16-17

Good but not amazing

I was disappointed by this book. While I don't disagree with most of the points the author makes, in many places the book lacks substance. Simply making sweeping assertions about racism in the criminal justice system is fine (and my claim isn't that they are incorrect), but it doesn't add much to the debate. Relative to the other books in this area, this book should be low on any reading list. You need to read Michelle Alexander, John Pfaff, James Forman Jr, Khalil Gibran Muhammad etc well before this book (and once you have there isn't much more to be gained by reading this). The best parts of the book are where the author draws directly on his own experience as a prosecutor (i.e. locking up black men) to give an insight into how the system works. He should have focused on that.

The book also needs to be edited a lot. He spends too long at the beginning defining the concept of the chokehold. There is a lot of repetition. There is too much referring to other chapters. The use of slang (never money, always "cash money") is fine, but i worry the author is adopting a mode of speech just to buy credibility. I am sure that as a criminal prosector the author never used those terms in regular speech. The reference to academic work is mostly superficial. There is a lot of throwing around of social science terms that don't really mean anything. Explaining "intersectionality" once is OK, but he labors the point several times. Its a simple idea - a person has multiple attributes to who they are (black, woman, gay etc).

The chapter offering advice to people who are arrested is interesting/useful.

I didn't dislike the book, but this is an area where there is an incredible collection of fantastic books and thinkers. I would not place this book among them.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Frank B. Polk Sr on 10-24-17


A Must READ for every BLACKMAN. So informative had to listen to it twice. Will be buying the hard copy for my library

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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