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Extended Audio Sample The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge, by T. J. English Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (473 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: T. J. English Narrator: Dennis Boutsikari Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In the early 1960s, uncertainty and menace gripped New York, crystallizing in a poisonous divide between a deeply corrupt, cynical, and racist police force, and an African American community buffeted by economic distress, brutality, and narcotics. On August 28, 1963—the day Martin Luther King, Jr., declared “I have a dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—two young white women were murdered in their Manhattan apartment. Dubbed the Career Girls Murders case, the crime sent ripples of fear throughout the city, as police scrambled fruitlessly for months to find the killer. But it also marked the start of a ten-year saga of fear, racial violence, and turmoil in the city—an era that took in events from the Harlem Riots of the mid-1960s to the Panther Twenty-One trials and Knapp Commission police corruption hearings of the early 1970s.

The Savage City explores this pivotal and traumatic decade through the stories of three very different men:

• George Whitmore Jr., the near-blind, destitute nineteen-year-old black man who was coerced into confessing to the Career Girls Murders and several other crimes. Whitmore, an innocent man, would spend the decade in and out of the justice system, becoming a scapegoat for the NYPD—and a symbol of the inequities of the system.

• Bill Phillips, a brazenly crooked NYPD officer who spent years plundering the system before being caught in a corruption sting—and turning jaybird to create the largest scandal in the department’s history.

• Dhoruba bin Wahad, a son of the Bronx and founding member of New York’s Black Panther Party, whose militant activism would make him a target of local and federal law enforcement as conflicts between the Panthers and the police gradually devolved into open warfare.

Animated by the voices of the three participants—all three of whom spent years in prison, and are still alive today—The Savage City emerges as an epic narrative of injustice and defiance, revealing for the first time the gripping story of how a great city, marred by fear and hatred, struggled for its soul in a time of sweeping social, political, and economic change.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “T. J. English has the mastered the hybrid narrative art form of social history and underworld thriller. The Savage City is a truly gripping read filled with unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommended.”

    Douglas Brinkley, New York Times bestselling author

  • The Savage City is a necessary examination of the people, passions, and maligned principles by which New York City once lived and died. English has a magnificent sense of the manner in which people, landscape, and history are bound together. Every world is a corner and every corner is a world.”

    Colum McCann, New York Times bestselling author

  • “[T. J. English] returns with a swashbuckling, racially charged nightmare about New York City in 1960s. This is one nightmare worth reliving because Mr. English so vividly re-creates an era…He graphically reconstructs a rampaging decade through three lives.”

    New York Times

  • “A brutal reminder that New York was not always such a welcoming place.”

    New York Post

  • “A searing profile of an ugly New York…The Savage City is meant to make us look back in anger and sorrow, perhaps to reflect upon what stayed the same as things changed.”

    New York Daily News

  • “It’s dripping with the kind of detail that’s too good to make up.”

    Mother Jones

  • “An epic look at the racial animus, fear, and hatred that characterized [a] troubled decade…Through the lives of three ostensibly unrelated men, English peels back the underlying turmoil that led to the violent period and the unaddressed social ills that remain to this day.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “English paints a vivid, gritty panorama of a city wracked by racial insurgency…A gripping, noirish retrospective of an era when brutal misrule sparked desperate rage.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A comprehensive, still-shocking exhumation of racial discord in America.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the April 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2012 Macavity Award Nominee for Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominee for Best Fact Crime

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Charlie | 2/19/2014

    " The Savage City, by T.J. English, is a great non-fiction book for older audiences due to the crimes, language, and other stuff. I would recommend this book to people who like topics about the civil right movement and/or love to learn about history from other views. It is a very interesting book and keeps you sucked in for ever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Dawn Hansen | 2/17/2014

    " This book was well written and informative. I learned a great deal about this era in NYC. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lumumba Shakur | 2/14/2014

    " This is book is far better than I had originally expected. I was hoping it would give me some insight into the environment around which my parents grew up that lead them to join the Black/Brown Power Movement - it did that and so much more. This book is a fascinating documentation of the generational shift that occurred as the Civil Rights Movement moved north and entered into metropolitan areas. It is not just a tale of corruption and violent revolution, but a city at a time when the racial tensions boiled over and exploded. The South had Jim Crow, the North had a system of racial oppression that was in its own ways more profound and devastating to the underprivileged communities. If this book does nothing other than debunk the continued social lie that the South is where racism was rooted, it would be enough. Though somewhat of a true-life crime novel, this book should stand alongside The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and other such works devoted to explaining how alive and well institutional racism still is in contemporary America. If people don't make the connection between then and now, they have missed English's entire point. The detail and thorough of this book is amazing and the way that English gives the living history of a generation through the real-life, personal experiences of three individuals is brilliant. It is an eye-opener and is definitively on my recommended reading list. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by John | 2/1/2014

    " Interesting tale of lost history "

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About the Author

T. J. English is the New York Times bestselling author of Havana Nocturne, Paddy Whacked, The Westies, and Born to Kill, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. His screenwriting credits include television episodes of NYPD Blue and Homicide, for which he was awarded the Humanitas Prize. He lives in New York City.