We Own This City
The astonishing true story of ‘one of the most startling police corruption scandals in a generation’ (New York Times) in paperback to tie-in with HBO/Sky Atlantic’s six-part drama, from the team who bought you THE WIRE (David Simon, George Pelecanos)
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Baltimore, 2015. Riots were erupting across the city. Drug and violent crime were surging, with homicides reaching their highest level in over two decades. For years, Sgt Wayne Jenkins and his elite team of plain-clothed officers – the Gun Trace Task Force – had been the city’s lauded heroes, working to get drugs and guns off the streets.
But all the while they had been stealing drugs and money and gaming the system. Because who would believe the dealers, the smugglers or the people who had simply been going about their daily business over the word of the city’s elite task force?
In We Own This City, Justin Fenton has produced a work of journalism that not only chronicles the rise and fall of a corrupt police unit, but can stand as the inevitable coda to the half-century of disaster that is the American drug war.
Jaw-dropping ... makes 'The Wire' look tame by comparison . . . the book is journalistic in the best sense, relaying complex information with exemplary clarity and telling the story at a hell of a lick, conveying its drama without recourse to camping or ramping.
If you want a better understanding of policing problems in the United States, read this book. Fenton has created a work of first-class reportage . . . an engrossing account for anyone who enjoys crime and corruption procedurals like The Wire and Serpico.
Fenton populates his narrative with a network of officers, informants and street dealers, all with different motivations and interests. . . . The overall effect is to capture the disorienting, churning quality of a city where the good guys and bad guys aren’t easily distinguished. . . . [Fenton] shows how, in our zeal to combat crime, we have allowed institutions to produce it.
'A standout examination of the failures of policing, laid out in context with greater systemic failures ... We Own This City is a sobering and necessary account of one dramatic way that trust was destroyed, but it is as much a damning indictment of how that destruction grew out of a mixture of negligence, incompetence and hubris.'
Impossible to put down and impossible to forget once finished. If you're wondering why the US is in the midst of protests and riots, read this book. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
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