Ghettoside

  • by Jill Leovy
  • Narrated by Rebecca Lowman
  • 13 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Audie Award, Non-Fiction, 2016
A masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America.
On a warm spring evening in South Los Angeles, a young man is shot and killed on a sidewalk minutes away from his home--one of the thousands of black Americans murdered that year. His assailant runs down the street, jumps into an SUV, and vanishes, hoping to join the scores of killers in American cities who are never arrested for their crimes.
But as soon as the case is assigned to Detective John Skaggs, the odds shift.
Here is the kaleidoscopic story of the quintessential but mostly ignored American murder--a "ghettoside" killing, one young black man slaying another--and a brilliant and driven cadre of detectives whose creed is to pursue justice for forgotten victims at all costs. Ghettoside is a fast-paced narrative of a devastating crime, an intimate portrait of detectives and a community bonded in tragedy, and a surprising new lens into the great subject of why murder happens in our cities--and how the epidemic of killings might yet be stopped.

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What the Critics Say

"A gripping and powerful account of urban homicide investigation in the United States." (Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove)
"Unmissable.... I’m astonished by Jill Leovy’s forthcoming Ghettoside. Police and race in America are examined with forensic skill and furious, exceptional prose. Lucid, revelatory, superbly written, incredibly timely. A book of the year." (Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee)
"Ghettoside is a brilliant taxonomic investigation into the American violence epidemic disguised as a highly entertaining true crime book." (Matt Taibbi, author of The Divide)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wish I liked it more

Would you try another book from Jill Leovy and/or Rebecca Lowman?

Jill Leovy is a respected journalist and her many interviews on radio were intelligent and interesting; however, this book really dragged for me. She spent several chapters glorifying the 2 white investigators who sound truly remarkable but don't really advance our understanding of the larger problem. The author expects us to be surprised that the many black men killed by police and each other have families that grieve for them years after their deaths- that's a given. It's important knowledge, but I don't want to read a book about grieving parents. Listening over several sessions, I became confused about the structure of the book- the central core was stretched way too thin, tidbits of facts were scattered throughout.


What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Couldn't finish it.


Would you be willing to try another one of Rebecca Lowman’s performances?

No. I found the narrator to be too laconic for what given the topic should have had a harder edge. She sounded more like a tender-hearted social worker than a hard-nosed investigator. This book may have been better in hard print because you could skim read and possibly get a lot more out of it.


Was Ghettoside worth the listening time?

Couldn't finish it- got bored and wasn't learning anything new.


Any additional comments?

Surprised by the great ratings- did these people just like the concept or did they actually listen to the whole thing? I'm usually in sync with the majority.

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- Deborah

Read in print, the audio version is horrible.

Would you listen to Ghettoside again? Why?

I would not listen to this book again; I didn't actually make it all the way through the audiobook in the first place. The narrator was a terrible choice. Instead of reading the book in the style in which it was written (reportage, researched and presented factually), the narrator reads in this treacly, sorrowful, dirge-like intonation - it's a "Greek chorus" voice familiar to anyone who has seen a Greek tragedy play, and her woeful delivery turns what was a really great book into an overwrought jeremiad. It's also frequently hilarious to hear that type of voice - very white, very female, very sepulchral and funeral-director obsequious - trying to deliver dialogue in street slang, because of the combination of the vernacular and her mournful voice. I wish the publisher had gone with a narrator who can read a book in the tenor of the author's voice instead of going with this ridiculousness. She sounds like she should be reading The Perils of Pauline, not a crime procedural.


What other book might you compare Ghettoside to and why?

I'll have to get back to this question after reading the book in print.


What didn’t you like about Rebecca Lowman’s performance?

I would not listen to this book again; I didn't actually make it all the way through the audiobook in the first place. The narrator was a terrible choice. Instead of reading the book in the style in which it was written (reportage, researched and presented factually), the narrator reads in this treacly, sorrowful, dirge-like intonation - it's a "Greek chorus" voice familiar to anyone who has seen a Greek tragedy play, and her woeful delivery turns what was a really great book into an overwrought jeremiad. It's also frequently hilarious to hear that type of voice - very white, very female, very sepulchral and funeral-director obsequious - trying to deliver dialogue in street slang, because of the combination of the vernacular and her mournful voice. I wish the publisher had gone with a narrator who can read a book in the tenor of the author's voice instead of going with this ridiculousness. She sounds like she should be reading The Perils of Pauline, not a crime procedural.


Any additional comments?

I'm pretty sure this is a good book, I was expecting something along the lines of David Simon, but the overly emotional narration just made it impossible to appreciate as a work of non-fiction.

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- Sarah

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-27-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio