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I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay…

I Can't Breathe: A Killing on Bay Street

by Matt Taibbi

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819209,335 (4.47)2



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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I think it's only fair that I begin this review by saying I started reading an earlier book from this author, only to promptly find it shrill with hyperbole, prompting me to cease quickly. Regardless, the subject and reputation of this book allowed me to try again with this work. I am very glad I did. This is an outstanding work. As the title implies, the book centers on the subject of the "I Can't Breathe" media phenomenon, Michael Garner, in New York City. Very early on in my reading, I noted much in common in this book with two of the best books I have ever read -- period -- but especially on contemporary American life for its black population: Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow and Matthew Desmond's Evicted. This book drives down to the micro level on much of what is expounded in Alexander's work, while it embeds itself in its location with much of the same intimacy Desmond did in his book. With that framework, the author meticulously but creatively and urgently lays out the multitude of nuances in the community in which this event occurred and the characters and actions taken before, during, and after, all while maintaining clarity and great interest. Moreover, the epilogue is an eloquent summing up of the book and what it all means. As an aside, I will mention that Jane Mayer's book, Dark Money, is a resource I would highly recommend to anyone in search of how America has reached its current state. I would most eagerly pair this book with Mayer's book for that purpose. ( )
  larryerick | Apr 26, 2018 |
Excellent coverage of the killing of Eric Garner in NYC - ostensibly for selling cigarettes by the piece. Taibbi does an excellent job of first, telling what happened, and then extrapolating with law, history, other like cases & draws it all together to mindboggling conclusion. -- The best, by far, of books I've read on this sort of case, need to read more of his material. ( )
  JeanetteSkwor | Apr 22, 2018 |
The first time I'd ever heard the name Eric Garner was this past winter while I was listening to the podcast "Fresh Air". I think I only got past the introduction of Mr. Taibbi and how his story regarding a brutal killing of the man in Statin Island evolved into his book. I was instantly hooked, I quickly hit the stop button and saved the podcast, so I could listen to it after I had read this book. At the time that this crime had taken place, I had already shut down the media because there was so much unrest in our country that I couldn't take anymore.
I'm a fan of non-fiction that deals with social issues and this was one of the best books in the genre that I've read in a long time. Mr. Taibbi brought Eric Garner back to life for me, I wasn't already saturated with the media regarding this case. I had no preconceived idea about the man or crime itself. I was transformed back a few years in time to this little small area where Mr. Garner was out on the street trying to scratch out a living for his family.
Mr. Taibbi did an awesome job in describing the climate in New York City during the past several years as well as the entire country. It was appalling to read about the super aggressive Stop and Frisk policies to singling out certain individuals who are just trying to make a living, a hard one at that. In many agencies, if an officer uses the chokehold its grounds for immediate dismissal. It was introduced back before officers had other means to subdue a combative subject. Mr. Garner was not by any means combative, this officer was wrong on so many counts.
I wish that I could see reform in the future, we need it regarding our criminal justice system, from mass incarceration to low-level victimless crimes. I’m afraid it doesn’t look like it’s moving in that direction, at least not anytime soon.
Mr. Taibbi nailed it when he brought up the new condos that were being built where Mr. Garner was killed. It's so sad to see these poor people get displaced either by harassment by city officials or their homes literally get torn down around them. When a city decides to rejuvenate an area that has fallen into a state of disrepair there is no stopping them, the people who lived in the rat-infested slums beforehand be damned. They want to wipe the slate clean, put on a pretty face so they can raise the tax brackets.
This book lived up to everything I thought it would and more. The humanistic approach to the life of Eric Garner and his family was extremely powerful.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. ( )
  sj1335 | Jan 19, 2018 |
This is primarily the story of Eric Garner and his family. You might remember his death. He was the heavy set black man who died by being put into a choke hold by the NYPD and it was captured on video and made the national news. On the ground he kept saying "I can't breathe" but was not listened to or assisted by police or pedestrians. There are many, many digressions in the book - some relevant and some not. This book indicts the legal system across the country in its unfairness to minority victims. ( )
  muddyboy | Dec 17, 2017 |
Every now and then a book hits me so hard that it takes me a while before I can review it. I need time to find the words. It's been a couple of weeks, and I'm still searching for those words.

To start, I can say simply that this is one of the best narrative nonfiction books I've ever read. Matt Taibbi's writing style has such an ease to it, as if the writing took no effort, when I know the exact opposite is true. Great writing like this takes a whole lot of effort.

This book reads like the best thriller novel. We get to know the people involved. We see them there, in their daily lives. We witness the best and the worst of their behavior. I felt what it was like to be a poor black person in a city full of stereotypes. I was on edge, saddened, and intensely horrified.

I read a lot of sociology and true crime, so I didn't come into this book unaware. But, oh my, the things I still didn't know or understand just blew my mind. I mean, a strip search on the side of a busy city street, just because you happen to be a young black male in a crime-ridden area? A strip search in public, with no probable cause beyond your skin color? I still can't quite grasp that this was (is?) happening in a so-called free country. And I wonder exactly how long this would be allowed if young, white people were being snatched up and strip-searched on the side of a busy city street. I could almost guarantee you that it would never even happen at all.

I truly believe everybody should read this book. Crime is not some sort of disease afflicting mainly young, black males. And when an entire segment of our population is treated with disdain by cops and local government, when those people are afforded less rights than the rest of us simply because they were born in the wrong place with the wrong skin color, then you are creating the very thing you're trying to avoid: angry young men who feel marginalized and disrespected. And, honestly, can you blame them?

With this book, Matt Taibbi gives us the truth of Eric Garner's life and death. He shows us the streets where Eric spent his life and the people he interacted with each day. Taibbi's telling of this story honors Garner with the kind of respect he was never given in life.

*I was provided with a review copy by the publisher, via Amazon Vine, in exchange for my honest review.* ( )
  Darcia | Dec 13, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who put Garner in the chokehold, is, in Taibbi’s account, a muscular hothead given to touching black men’s private parts. Before his encounter with Garner, he racked up more civilian complaints than the average cop, costing the NYPD thousands of dollars in settlements with people who claimed he abused their rights or planted evidence on them. That amount pales in comparison with the more than $5 million Garner’s family reportedly received in a civil settlement, but Pantaleo remains a sworn officer of the NYPD. In what passes for good news in the sordid mess, he is now confined to desk duty.,,
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To the family and friends of Eric Garner, who told his story with love.
To Clementine Russ, who is still waiting.
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Bang bang bang!
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"Explores the roots and repercussions of the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police"--

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