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5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant book
Having read -- and enjoyed -- "Street Kingdom," I feel compelled to respond to the customer review posted on March 29 under the headline "Sad, Wrongheaded, Insulting to Black Readers." While reviews are obviously a matter of personal opinion and taste, this reviewer seems not to have read the same book I did. In fact, he/she writes, "the book...
Published on 30 Mar. 1999

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Wrongheaded, Insulting to Black Readers
I really do believe that Douglas Century means well in this account of black ghetto life. Yet, the book sounds like most attempts to "humanize" blackness; it unwittingly feeds on stereotypes. It also reverberates with Century's own pride at being welcomed into this "exotic" environment. This is just the kind of book that most liberal white...
Published on 29 Mar. 1999


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5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant book, 30 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
Having read -- and enjoyed -- "Street Kingdom," I feel compelled to respond to the customer review posted on March 29 under the headline "Sad, Wrongheaded, Insulting to Black Readers." While reviews are obviously a matter of personal opinion and taste, this reviewer seems not to have read the same book I did. In fact, he/she writes, "the book SOUNDS like most attempts to 'humanize' blackness" -- "sounds like?" Did you actually crack the pages of the book and begin to read? Or did you base your opinion/review on what you heard second-hand? "Street Kingdom" is a very complex portrait of a subculture and Century's own involvement in it; he does not sugarcoat the unflattering aspects he witnesses; but by the same token, he does not villify or editorialize on the people whose lives he is documenting. The reviewer goes on to note: "This is the kind of book that most liberal white Americans believe helps to promote racial tolerance; instead it sets the race movement back." What?! If you are looking for a book that promotes "racial tolerance," pick up the new autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. And "race movement?" I'm not even sure what this means. Are we living in 1969? Lastly, the reviewer chastizes Century for "fixating, sometimes with peculiar intensity, on the up-and-down lives of his black subjects." Forgive me, but I think that's called REPORTING. A good journalist is supposed to fixate, hopefully with some degree of intensity, on the lives of his fellow human beings. Again, this reviewer shows his/her own "wrongheaded" biases by instructing us that Century "like most naive white liberals-- should fixate first on his own racial sensitivities, expectations and attitudes." A bizarre statement, given the degree to which the author places his own reactions and perspective at the core of his story; this is certainly a book that says as much about one white writer's encounters with a segment of African-American culture as it does about that culture itself. Perhaps that's what's best -- and ground-breaking -- about "Street Kingdom"; and it's what's most difficult for dogmatic, pre-programmed minds to accept.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, honest book, 30 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
Having read -- and enjoyed -- "Street Kingdom," I feel compelled to respond to the customer review posted on March 29 under the headline "Sad, Wrongheaded, Insulting to Black Readers." While reviews are obviously a matter of personal opinion and taste, this reviewer seems not to have read the same book I did. In fact, he/she writes, "the book SOUNDS like most attempts to "humanize' blackness" -- "sounds like?" Did you actually crack the pages of the book and begin to read? Or did you base your opinion/review on what you heard second-hand? "Street Kingdom" is a very complex portrait of a subculture and Century's own involvement in it; he does not sugarcoat the unflattering aspects he witnesses; but by the same token, he does not villify or editorialize on the people whose lives he is documenting. The reviewer goes on to note: "This is the kind of book that most liberal white Americans believe helps to promote racial tolerance; instead it sets the race movement back." What?! If you are looking for a book that promotes "racial tolerance," pick up the new autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. And "race movement?" I'm not even sure what this means. Are we living in 1969? Lastly, the reviewer chastizes Century for "fixating, sometimes with peculiar intensity, on the up-and-down lives of his black subjects." Forgive me, but I think that's called REPORTING. A good journalist is supposed to fixate, hopefully with some degree of intensity, on the lives of his fellow human beings. Again, this reviewer shows his/her own "wrongheaded" biases by instructing us that Century "like most naive white liberals-- should fixate first on his own racial sensitivities, expectations and attitudes." A bizarre statement, given the degree to which the author places his own reactions and perspective at the core of his story; this is certainly a book that says as much about one white writer's encounters with a segment of African-American culture as it does about that culture itself. Perhaps that's what's best -- and ground-breaking -- about "Street Kingdom"; and it's what's most difficult for dogmatic, pre-programmed minds to accept.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We live in one city but we have distinct fates., 29 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
Century has given us an account of his five year friendship with members of a Brooklyn street gang, and in particular with one young African-American man known, among other things, as Big K.The child of Jamaican immigrants from Panama,Big K has been involved in robbery and killings, and has spent time upstate. He seems to have been arrested innumerable times, but somehow seems, until the end of the book, to have avoided lengthy incarceration. Upstate institutions have been his schools. He has dealt drugs, sought to become a professional boxer, aspires to be a rap artist. He has also held regular jobs and has a wife and children. He and I live in the same city, but our lifestyles are worlds apart. Inspite of his criminal activities and his violent explosions of temper, he strikes me as a sympathic figure. He was mistreated as a child and never got the care he had a right to expect. It seems that he is the product of a terrible necessity, but then perhaps we are all products of necessity.And Big K is not without virtues and talents. He is a faithful friend, he cares for his wife and children, he aspires to a better life. And not only is he a skilled rapper, but in conversation he expresses himself in phrases that capture the feeling behind his remarks. This is a book, which to me, give a picture of a fellow human being.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb book, 28 Sept. 2006
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This book is essential for anyone with an interest in Hip Hop or New York City ghetto life. It is a glimpse of the fringes of the Hip Hop world, plus a look at life in Brooklyn for a group of figures loosely associated with rap group Black Moon. It is engrossing, thrilling and hard to put down. It surely ranks in the top ten of books written on Hip Hop. I rank it alongside the excellent and also essential William Shaw's "Westsiders" which is a similar book that tells of lives in LA. If you want to read about struggles to get put on in the rap world, the unwritten codes of the New York prison system and Chasidic - African American relations in Brooklyn this is for you. The most impressive feat of the book is the re creation of the shear speed of street life. Fascinating and brilliant.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Wrongheaded, Insulting to Black Readers, 29 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
I really do believe that Douglas Century means well in this account of black ghetto life. Yet, the book sounds like most attempts to "humanize" blackness; it unwittingly feeds on stereotypes. It also reverberates with Century's own pride at being welcomed into this "exotic" environment. This is just the kind of book that most liberal white Americans believe helps to promote racial tolerance; instead, it really sets the race movement back. Instead of fixating, sometimes with pecular intensity, on the up-and-down lives of his black subjects, Century--like most naive white liberals--should fixate first on his own racial sensitivities, expectations, and attitudes. It's too bad that it is this kind of book that white America often thinks is examplary and helpful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and brave, 31 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
I highly recommend Douglas Century's "Street Kingdom." Superficially, it reminded me of "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford (my all-time favorite work of nonfiction); but the hard men whose lives he documents (the Franklin Avenue Posse) are much more sympathetic and complex than the soccer hooligan's in Buford's work. I came away from this book with a lot of respect for Century's insights into "street culture" and admiration for his brave (if sometimes foolhardy) reporting. My only criticism would be that I found the structure to be somewhat free-form and unfocused.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and brave, 31 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
I highly recommend Douglas Century's "Street Kingdom." Superficially, it reminded be of "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford (my all-time favorite work of nonfiction); but the hard men whose lives he documents (the Franklin Avenue Posse) are much more sympathetic and complex than the soccer hooligan's in Buford's work. I came away from this book with a lot of respect for Century's insights into "street culture" and admiration for his brave (if sometimes foolhardy) reporting. My only criticism would be that I found the structure to be somewhat free-form and unfocused.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a powerful narrative with bold insights, 30 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
Douglas Century takes us on fascinating journey into a world little often seen. His narrative is powerful, his insights bold, and the characterization is as good as anything I've read in recent non-fiction. Big K the American Dread, a true Brooklyn "original," comes across as a three-dimensional portrait: full of vigor, rage but also touching humanity. Like "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" or "The Executioner's Song," this book ranks up there with the best examples of literary non-fiction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What an unbelievable story!, 3 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
Boy! I was really amazed by this story and it was written so well. With so much in the news about racism, this is an admirable account of a friendship between a black person and a white person from two entirely different worlds that more people should learn about what transpired in this book. Maybe others will be inspired to develop friendships with people from other races, cultures, and socioeconomic status. I will definitely tell people about this book and also that it is reasonable priced at AMAZON!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What an unbelievable story!, 3 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
Boy! I was really amazed by this story and it was written so well. With so much in the news about racism, this is an admirable account of a friendship between a black person and a white person from two entirely different worlds that more people should learn about what transpired in this book. Maybe others will be inspired to develop friendships with people from other races, cultures, and socioeconomic status. I will definitely tell people about this book and also that it is reasonable priced at AMAZON!
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Street Kingdom by Douglas Century (Paperback - 15 Jun. 2000)
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