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Ghettoside Audiobook

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

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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.

©2015 Jill Leovy (P)2015 Random House Audio

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)

What Members Say

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Performance


There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

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  • Sarah
    MANHATTAN, KS, United States
    07/02/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  • Deborah
    HOUSTON, TX, United States
    05/03/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    22 of 24 people found this review helpful
  • loix
    28/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Better than fiction"

    I have not enjoyed any of my recent Audible purchases. In fact, I am still struggling to finish them. But this title reminds me why I have been an Audible subscriber all these years. The central narrative is enough to captivate readers without any interest in social policy, and unfolds like a pretty good police procedural. It feels like a bonus that this is not fiction, but true life, and it is truly comforting to know that there are people like Det. Skaggs out there who are changing things for the better, and journalists like the author who have made it their personal cause to shed light on the plight of the victims. The story was so entertaining it kept me up through the wooden and plodding delivery.

    20 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • serine
    ARDMORE, PA, United States
    22/04/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tries to understand BOTH police AND minorities"

    This book takes an interesting approach to understanding the friction between police and minorities. By focusing on a single crime, one that is more fascinating than the description of the book allows, this author attempts to understand what challenges both police and citizens face in affecting criminal justice in society. By attempting to understand what it is like for officers and minorities, this author sets herself apart from many others who attempt to write about this subject by choosing a side. The story she provides keeps the reader engaged while, at the same time, providing them with a sprinkling of food for thought, so the reader can begin to understand how justice isn't always just.

    Overall, the book is pretty good, but will not really expose the reader to many of the key issues at the center of the debate between Blue Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter.

    If you are only going to read one book about race and the criminal justice system in America, make it Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow. If you are going to read only two, add David Oshinsky's Worse Than Slavery to that list. But, if it is a topic that you want to understand on a deeper level and have already read the two books just mentioned, then this is a great book to read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • G. Wilm
    Guelph, Ontario, Canada
    11/03/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating and unrelentingly bleak."

    Even if you are remotely interested in the subject, you owe it to yourself to read this remarkable book. But be forewarned: the account that Leovy relates is ineffably stark and depressing. I could only listen to this material in measured intervals. This book is superbly researched. I especially valued the historical background the author provided. Ms. Lowman's narration was excellent. She has a lovely voice, enjoyable diction, and her delivery was respectful of the dark accounts that she relates. This was a tough work to get through, but I am grateful to the author for her remarkable courage.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • tef1303
    Downeast Maine
    29/01/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wow!"

    A masterpiece of reporting similar to Homicide or The Corner. The narrative contains gall and wormwood for both ends of the political spectrum. The truth is unbearable: we really don't care all that much about "gang related" victims. Should we? I think so, but I'm a physician with a bias in favor of doing something to solve this problem. I'm part of the system. The last section is simplistic and dispensable: it suggests a pat solution taped on top of an otherwise brilliant portrait. Better policing and a more nurturing and responsible culture would be a real solution. The tyranny of the 40 percenters lives on!

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • farmhouselady
    farmland, PA USA
    13/03/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Is this really a soap opera? Or actual history?"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    This will take some explaining...It is deficient on several different points. I was very surprised to be so disappointed in it, based on its excellent reviews.However, after the first three hours, I was still waiting impatiently for the action to begin.

    It seemed to be all indepth descriptions of the saintly cops in the LAPD some years back. It slowly evolved into the same type stuff regarding some of the first "noteworthy" victims of violence that I heard about, those being mainly run-of-the-mill Black-on-Black murders in the police districts being discussed, murders that went unsolved, as the overwhelming majority of BOB killings did.

    I might add at this point that, regarding these BOB murders, the melodrama just went on and on AND ON about family members falling down on the floor in grief, and how they otherwise just went through extreme destruction to their lives with their sons/brothers, etc., killed. This gratuitous excess was nauseating to me. And I am one who appreciates actual nonfiction reporting of the facts, emotions, warts and all. But descriptions of the tears running down so many different faces, the excessive repetition about the horribleness of it all - it was just plain gratuitous and did not have the desired effect. I was disgusted and thought," Just get on with the story please!"

    The saintliness verbiage, too, seemed to go on and on and I wondered, did these couple holy cops walk on water, too? Did they put on their pants one leg at a time?

    So eventually, what seems to be the main action began, and surprise, surprise! - THIS sudden intense focus is due solely to the fact that one of the saintly cops' sons became a victim. WHOA! WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY NOW!

    OF COURSE it would be natural for this type of crime, getting up close and personal to the police officers, would inspire a more intense response. But then again, the cop involved had insisted on maintaining his home right in the worst-crime district, raising young children there, etc. And he was clearly pretty paranoid that his son would be at particular risk there. So this murder could not have, or should not have, come as the huge shock that it did to the police.

    I am definitely not blaming the officer for his son's death. We all pays our money and takes our chances in our earthly lives. We use our best judgment and conduct our lives as uprightly as we can. We do the best we can with what we have.

    My intent in these remarks is to emphasize the degree that this perfectly interesting topic, historical background of the LAPD, has been, I think, almost indecently embroidered with emphasis that is out of line on the ostensibly gut-wrenching aspects of this history. In my mind, a more objective and fact-oriented telling of the history would have been way more effective. To me, if you just tell me what happened, my own emotions will respond to that. You do not have to tell me how to feel about what happened, which is what is going on in this book so far. I resent that. It ruins the story for me because it is condescending to my ability, my intelligence to understand the facts for myself.

    Example, I do not recall, in very long descriptions of the saintly cops that the book started out with, hearing about any of their NEGATIVE personality qualities..Only the wonderfulness of their various quirks. But no one is that perfect. Even good traits, like being fastidious about record-keeping, can have another side, such as becoming anal... It would have, in no way, ruined my appreciation of the fine qualities of an officer, to have learned that he was, at the bottom of it, just a man trying to live life as a good and decent human being. It would have enhanced my feeling of trust of the author. But getting only the wonderfulness side of things raises suspicion that the intent is to manipulate emotions.

    OK, so I am probably using way too many words here to make a point. But I am something like 5 hours into the book now and I am only getting more and more annoyed at these factors, and not sure if I am able to continue with it. I am very very disappointed. There was so much promise, considering the subject matter. Probably most Americans living today have some interest in the historical doings of the LAPD. But the author has tried to make a soap opera out of it.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    As always, looking for new narrations by Kevin Pierce, Scott Brick, to mention a couple favorites. Also hoping for new-to-me offerings by authors Burl Barer, M. William Phelps, Eric Larson, Charles Bosworth, Gregg Olsen, Anthony Flacco, Ron Franscell, or Diane Fanning. Or something else nonfiction showing a listening time over 10 hours that also bears high ratings.


    What aspect of Rebecca Lowman’s performance would you have changed?

    She did OK with what she had to work with. No theatrics, just straight reading, which is what I prefer.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Ghettoside?

    Of course I would have cut out all the excess melodrama wherever I found it. It detracts from the story and belittles the audience. Apparently the author believes the American public can only appreciate soap opera level experiences. He gives us no credit for having a brain, but only need and/or desire to be ENTERTAINED on a superficial level.


    Any additional comments?

    Yes! If Audible doesn't do something pretty soon about the terrible disregard for quality in putting together these recordings, there will have to be a listener revolt! What is turning out to be completely EXCESSIVE and INEXCUSABLE is the repetition of the last paragraph, or the last few sentences, before a new chapter. This is INFURIATING. At first in other books it seemed to be just an occasional thing, but in the last couple books I have had, it has increased and in this current book, it seems to be every single new chapter is preceded by this intensely irritating repetition. Aren't our monthly fees enough to buy us some basic level of oversight of the products that Audible is pushing out onto us? Does Audible think we do not NOTICE? This has been going on for a very long time now and has only gotten worse and worse. It is like a slap in the face to us listeners. Don't we deserve better than this?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Patrick Gillam
    New Hampshire
    16/01/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I highly recommend "Ghettoside.""

    The recorded performance is excellent. (Not all audiobooks are recorded equal.) The book combines the page-turningness of a whodunnit, the admirable characters of a hero's journey, and the social insights of a graduate seminar.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • CHET YARBROUGH
    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States
    28/05/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "BROKEN"

    Broken families, broken hearts, but most of all, broken trust are described in Jill Leovy’s book, “Ghettoside”. Leovy’s “true story”, somewhat surprisingly, deals with the relationship between Black communities and local law enforcement in an area known as South Central Los Angeles. The 2000 census shows 749,453 people live on 51.08 square miles of land, made up of twenty-five neighborhoods.

    The surprise in the story is that the 2000 census shows 56.7% of the population of South Central Los Angeles is Latino, 38% Black, and the remainder white, Asian, or other. One presumes Leovy chooses the relationship between Blacks and the police because it fits the particular facts of her story. However, it seems fair to suggest broken families, hearts, and trust are equally true for Latin South Central Los Angeles families because “ghettoside”, poverty and gang violence are common denominators.

    This story about South Central is primarily told from the perspective of the police department. Leovy tells the “true story” of a black South Central Los Angeles’ cop who works and lives in a South Central L.A.’ community.

    Being a cop in South Central L.A. looks like the hell described in Sartre’s play, “No Exit”. It is a play where three dead characters are locked in a room with no exit. In Leovy’s story, there are the police, the citizens, and the perpetrators. Sartre is saying “hell is other people” because each is perpetually viewed by the other as the worst part of themselves. “Ghettoside” is a picture of hell; i.e. a picture of broken families, broken hearts, and broken trust.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Greg
    Lutherville, Moldova, Republic of
    22/04/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Riveting, compelling, disturbing"

    Ghettocide takes the devastating and overwhelming yet underreported phenomenon of black on black violence and brings it right home in a compelling, honest, sometimes brutal narrative.

    An excellent book everyone should read, especially our leaders and politicians.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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