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NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST
On July 17, 2014, a forty-three-year-old black man named Eric Garner died on a Staten Island sidewalk after a police officer put him in what has been described as an illegal chokehold during an arrest for selling bootleg cigarettes. The final moments of Garner’s life were captured on video and seen by millions. His agonized last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the nascent Black Lives Matter protest movement. A grand jury ultimately declined to indict the officer who wrestled Garner to the pavement.
Matt Taibbi’s deeply reported retelling of these events liberates Eric Garner from the abstractions of newspaper accounts and lets us see the man in full—with all his flaws and contradictions intact. A husband and father with a complicated personal history, Garner was neither villain nor victim, but a fiercely proud individual determined to do the best he could for his family, bedeviled by bad luck, and ultimately subdued by forces beyond his control.
In America, no miscarriage of justice exists in isolation, of course, and in I Can’t Breathe, Taibbi also examines the conditions that made this tragedy possible. Featuring vivid vignettes of life on the street and inside our Kafkaesque court system, Taibbi’s kaleidoscopic account illuminates issues around policing, mass incarceration, the underground economy, and racial disparity in law enforcement. No one emerges unsullied, from the conservative district attorney who half-heartedly prosecutes the case to the progressive mayor caught between the demands of outraged activists and the foot-dragging of recalcitrant police officials.
A masterly narrative of urban America and a scathing indictment of the perverse incentives built into our penal system, I Can’t Breathe drills down into the particulars of one case to confront us with the human cost of our broken approach to dispensing criminal justice.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By connie on 11-01-17
I had no idea!
This book provided perspective that helps me begin to get a glimpse - to understand that I had absolutely no clue about how ugly life can be. I thought this insidious evil was behind us. Time after time I couldn't believe what I was hearing and was brought to tears. The injustices that I've witnessed here-to-fore seem paltry compared to what my fellow Americans are subjected to.
I confess that I did not understand the black lives matter movement. I was one of those folks that said "all lives matter". My child is biracial and I've always considered myself colorblind. Instead I was blind to what men and women, mothers and fathers and families of color face. I'm sickened by this horror.
I wish I knew a way to let this man's daughter, Erica Garner know how incredibly impressed I am with her tenacity and courage. I never want sweetness my father be disrespected or treated poorly by anyone. My heart would be destroyed had this happen to my father.
To every man that is been humiliated my heart breaks for you and I'm ashamed.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful