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Download The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League Audiobook, by Jeff Hobbs Click for printable size audiobook cover
5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 5.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeff Hobbs Narrator: George Newbern Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2014 ISBN: 9781442380424
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “If The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace were a novel, it would be a moral fable for our times; as nonfiction, it is one of the saddest and most devastating books I’ve ever read, a tour-de-force of compassion and insight, an exquisite elegy for a person, for a time of life, for a valid hope that nonetheless failed. It is also a profound reflection on a society that professes to value social mobility but that often does not or cannot imbue privilege with justice. It is written with clarity, precision, and tenderness, without judgment, with immense kindness, and with a quiet poetry. Few books transform us, but this one has changed me forever.”

    Andrew Solomon, National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon

  • “Nuanced and shattering.”

    People magazine

  • “Heartbreaking.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “A haunting American tragedy for our times.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “A meticulous and heartfelt…This is a riveting and heartbreaking read, as Rob Peace seems always to have been on the outside—the resented geek in the hood and the inner-city black man in the Ivy League.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “[Hobbs] asks the consummate American question: Is it possible to reinvent yourself, to sculpture your own destiny?…That one man can contain such contradictions makes for an astonishing, tragic story. In Hobbs’ hands, though, it becomes something more: an interrogation of our national creed of self-invention…[The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace] deserves a turn in the nation’s pulpit from which it can beg us to see the third world America in our midst.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • "The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is a book that is as much about class as it is race. Peace traveled across America’s widening social divide, and Hobbs’ book is an honest, insightful, and empathetic account of his sometimes painful, always strange journey.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Devastating. It is a testament to Hobbs’ talents that Peace’s murder still shocks and stings even though we are clued into his fate from the outset…A first-rate book. [Hobbs] has a tremendous ability to empathize with all of his characters without romanticizing any of them.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Ambitious, moving tale of an inner-city Newark kid who made it to Yale yet succumbed to old demons and economic realities…Hobbs manages the ambiguities of what could be a grim tale by meticulously constructing environmental verisimilitude and unpacking the rituals of hardscrabble parochial schools, Yale secret societies, urban political machinations, and Newark drug gangs. An urgent report on the state of American aspirations and a haunting dispatch from forsaken streets.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “A man with seemingly every opportunity loses his way in this compelling biographical saga. Novelist Hobbs chronicles the life of Peace, who was born in a Newark, NJ, ghetto to an impoverished single mom and a father who went to prison for murder…This is a classic tragedy of a man who, with the best intentions, chooses an ineluctable path to disaster.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “George Newbern’s calm but insistent voice sets the tone. His approach to the work is unhurried, and he makes sure we hear every word with the nuance it deserves in order to convey the author’s message. Newbern uses this same method with character voices, making sure that he differentiates them enough from the narrative and using enough inflection that we understand the people’s emotions and motivations.”


  • “A poignant and powerful can’t-put-it-down book about friendship and loss. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace takes you on a nail-biting, heartbreaking journey that will leave you moved, shaken, and ultimately changed. In this spectacularly written first work of nonfiction, Jeff Hobbs creates a singular and searing portrait of an unforgettable life.”

    Jennifer Gonnerman, author of Life on the Outside

  • “Jeff Hobbs has written a mesmerizingly beautiful book, a mournful, yet joyous celebration of his friend Robert Peace, this full-throated, loving, complicated man whose journey feels simultaneously heroic and tragic. This book is an absolute triumph—of empathy and of storytelling. Hobbs has accomplished something extraordinary: he’s made me feel like Peace was a part of my life, as well. Trust me on this, Peace is someone you need to get to know. He’ll leave you smiling. His story will leave you shaken.”

    Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

  • A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, September 2014
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An NPR Bestseller
  • A Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice
  • An Amazon Best Book for September 2014
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller
  • A People Magazine Best Book of Fall 2014
  • A 2014 New York Times Notable Book
  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014
  • One of Audible’s Best Audiobooks of 2014: Editors' Pick
  • Longlisted for the 2015 PEN Literary Award
  • Winner of the 2015 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 CJP | 4/27/2017

    " I had to read this book for a doctorate class I'm taking and I am glad I did! Robert Peace is an inspiration, as is his mother for how hard she worked to get him out of a dangerous life, one she was all to aware of. "

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About the Author
Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. Hobbs spent three years in New York and Tanzania while working with the African Rainforest Conservancy. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife.
About the Narrator

George Newbern is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and a television and film actor best known for his roles as Brian MacKenzie in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II, as well as Danny in Friends. As a voice actor, he is notable for his role as Superman on the Cartoon Newtork series Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. He has guest starred on many television series, including Scandal, The Mentalist, Private Practice, CSI: Miami, and Numb3rs. He holds a BA in theater arts from Northwestern University.