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.
©2014 Simon & Schuster Audio (P)2014 Jeff Hobbs
I am an audiobook addict. I love novels but I have even strayed into non-fiction with the Steve Jobs Biography. It was brilliant.
I loved this book. I learned a lot about checking one's white privilege. I think the story was well written, well paced and gripping till the end.
The reader was really good but there were a few mispronounced words like "affluent" which was used quite a few times. I'm surprised when the editors, in this digital age, don't catch these mistakes.
"A beautiful, elegiac remembrance of a friend"
Not possible, but yes.
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.
"Everyone Should Read this Book"
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.
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.
I thought he was wonderful, really excellent. The quality of this narration would make me seek out his other projects.
Yes. I only stopped because I fell asleep.
I think anyone who is curious about why poverty is ingrained as a seeming unovercomable obstacle in this country should read this book.
It's hard not to get hooked into Robert Peace's story, which is so well-written by his friend Jeff Hobbs and performed so elegantly by George Newbern. Even knowing how it'll all end, based on the book's subtitle, you can't help but hope that the brilliant, loyal, but conflicted Peace will still somehow turn it all around. This is very compelling narrative nonfiction, and I'll be looking for more of Newbern's narrations in the future.
"Powerful Narrative Nonfiction"
The story of Robert Peace is both heartbreaking and compelling. Written in narrative nonfiction style by Rob’s former Yale roommate Jeff Hobbs, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace documents the life of a brilliant and big-hearted young man that rises from poverty to graduate from the Ivy League – only to struggle to shake the anchor that binds him to the streets of Newark. While the book’s outcome is a given from the title, the gripping narrative voiced by George Newbern leaves you helplessly rooting for Rob throughout every stage.
"Buy This Book"
Though the title lets you know the outcome before the first word of the book begins, Jeff Hobbs has you rooting for Robert Peace who is presented with all the triumphs, complexities and foibles of his short life.
"The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace" is a tremendous accomplishment. I offer my deepest gratitude to Jeff Hobbs for his unflinching narrative and devotion to detail. Though I cannot agree with the brief criticism (inconsiderable, in my opinion, set side by side with the scope of this work), The New York Times' Anand Giridharadas wrote the following of the book, perhaps the closest and best encapsulation I've found: "It deserves a turn in the nation’s pulpit from which it can beg us to see the third world America in our midst. Robert Peace, who called his mother “my heart,” was her only and beloved son. But he was our son, too. We are the wondrous country that made him a Yale man. We are the wanting country where even that wasn’t enough to spare him."
"Incredible! Could not stop listening...."
I loved the writing, and how it felt as if you had a seat next to Rob and his friends and family.
Rob's Mom, for her strength and dignity.
A great story teller! Very easy to listen to his tale.
Every chapter had a moment, the whole life of Rob is an incredible journey.
I was stunned how his life ended.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace about a uniquely intellectually, verbally, and athletically gifted boy born in an urban ghetto near Newark NJ. Despite a superb private secondary school education followed by a full scholarship to Yale where he received a BS degree in microbiology in 4 years, he ends up in the illegal drug business and is murdered at age 30. The story, which is true, is told by his roommate and friend at Yale.
Rob Peace had a mother who continuously sacrificed to give him a better life and a petty criminal father who was imprisoned when Rob was age 7 for murders he likely did not commit. The unasked and unanswered question is, "What more could have been done to help Rob realize his potential?" There are no easy answers, but had marijuana been legal the end situation would certainly been different.
This is a brilliant book. It is also a very sad book.
"Great book to listen to"
The story was outstanding. I was able to relate to the subject matter. The only issue i had is the narrator had a few miscues in regards to how some slang terms are pronounced and some of the Hip-hop artist names were butchered. other than that i really enjoyed it
With this being my first "Audible" book, I really was impressed. The story was absolutely the best introduction to this amazing Amazon product. Listening to this book made me wish my commute to work was longer. I was fully enraptured in the story, especially coming from a similar background trying to code switch and live amongst different factions. It's hard to balance it all, so listening to someone trying to do the same helped me not to feel alone. I love this story, can't wait for the movie. Jeff Hobbs did his thing!
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