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The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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  • The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood
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  • Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets (Canons)
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  • The Wire: Truth Be Told
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Product details

  • Paperback: 628 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847673171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847673176
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 4.4 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 86,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A staggering depiction of broken urban hearts of America . . . This is reportage of the highest order." (Irish Times)

"If The Wire has given you Baltimore fever, read this chunky, streetwise, drug-littered piece of reportage by the hard-hitting show's creators." (The Times)

"An amazingly clear-sighted yet sympathetic portrait of the American underclass." (Daily Telegraph)

"As thrilling and intense as any psycho-drama . . . this engrossing slice of social journalism is a tour de force that manages tohumanise its subjects without exploiting them." (Big Issue)

"A profoundly moving and intelligent piece of social history." (Time Out)

"A brutal critique of America's failed war on drugs, the equality of Simon and Burns's insights matched by a hardboiled lyricism. This is journalism as art." (Sunday Herald) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A devastating portrait of the American drugs war, from the creators of THE WIRE

'Mind-blowing . . . less a book, more a way of life.' The Times

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this magnificent, addictively readable book David Simon and Ed Burns take the time to document the lives of a small group of drug addicts and dealers living in a desolate Baltimore neighbourhood. In doing so they have created an important and moving book, and given a human face to a group of impoverished, forgotten people with almost no prospects, destined otherwise to become nothing more than anonymous statistics. It's a worthy enough project, but the authors have created a work that is not only a document and a testament to a time, place and social ill, but a slick and entertaining book in its own right.

The pace of the book is slower, and The Corner is less compelling than Simon's masterful "Homicide," lacking as it does the "whodunnit" elements, but this book is no less worthy of praise.

Simon and Burns strike a near-perfect balance here between the minutiae of the lives of the addicts and their families - the petty crime, the designer clothes, the packages, the basketball games - and the wider subjects which explore how and why this forgotten underclass came to be - the "war on drugs," immigration, unemployment and the mentality and economy of the drug trade. It's a huge book at over 550 pages long, but it is never overly weighty or preachy. Simon and Burns view their subject from all angles, illuminating it in three dimensions, moving in the space of a page from a close up of a desperate junkie tearing copper piping from a basement, to an authoratitive exploration of the migration of the Black population from Carolina and Virginia, the racial tensions that arose and the impact of WW2 on the poor communities of Baltimore. With several years of research under their belts, most of it on the corner that gives the book its title, the authors can be trusted completely.
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A remarkable work of journalism, even exceeding Simon's more famous work 'Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets'.
The reader is taken into a world few of us would dare approach as outsiders but almost immediately we are empathising with most of the characters.

This book is a terrible endictment of inner cities throughout the world, but especially in America. Aspirations are crushed by the surrounding apathy and good intentions drowned by the endless supply of readily available, highly addictive cheap drugs. The complete breakdown of the education system and any sort of meaningful law and order, described and explained by Simon in horrific detail, show that the next generation(s) are doomed to follow the old as avenues of escape are all but cut off.

Yet even among the gun toting teenage gangs, the adolescent mothers and their long term addicted parents and grand-parents we recognise people with potential, those with gentle and friendly natures, those with a wonderful sense of humour, simple people, lazy people, hard-working people - in short, every day characters and personalities we all recognise. But society has failed them, utterly broken down and failed them dismally.
There, but for an accident of birth, goes every one of us.

There are those who continue to care, continue to work to try and bring some sort of meaning to life in the ghetto. Some are saints who, at least for a time, refuse to give up on a cause so lost it is bewildering, while others are just not prepared to recognise the hoplessness into which their own neighborhood has descended.

More than anything this book is a slap in the face for those who say 'I would never let it happen to me, I'd find a way to better myself'.
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Format: Paperback
The Corner was given to me by my fiance, who grew up two blocks from the actual 'corner'. Many of the individuals in the book were people he knew from childhood, grade school, the play grounds...I had the opportunity to ask many questions about people like Blue, Fat Curt, Gary, etc. These people became real to me and I was pulling for all of them to make it - to escape - to survive. My fiance left Baltimore for another life - but realizing that he grew up amidst the turmoil and temptation of The Corner - has given me a greater respect for him. He escaped - God help all of those who weren't so fortunate. I highly recommend this book to anyone - but especially to those who have never experienced the harsh reality of the inner city up close and personal. And once you read it, share it with a friend so everyone can come to realize how far this country has to come.
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Format: Paperback
Every politician should be forced to read this, and squirm as their lies about 'the war on drugs' are carefully skewered, one by one. The rest of us should read it because it's an amazing book, a great book. It examines the hell of one particular underclass with the biting intelligence of a Chomsky and the profound compassion of Dostoyevsky's 'From the House of the Dead'. A vital present-tense narrative of broken and wasted lives is interspersed with brilliant essays on why things are this way and why the status quo is designed to dehumanize us all. But it really isn't heavy going; the authors describe it as a work of journalism, but it's journalism of the highest order, with a quicksilver wit, bracing anger and the selfless sympathy which allows us to witness other people's lives.
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