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Show Me a Hero: A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption
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Show Me a Hero: A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  90 ratings  ·  15 reviews
When Nicholas Wasicsko was growing up, he knew he was going to be mayor of Yonkers. The other kids teased him about his dream, calling him "The Mayor" on the basketball court. But on November 3, 1987, when he was only twenty-eight years old, Nick did indeed become mayor - in fact, the country's youngest. It turned out to be less than a dream job. The city had just been sla ...more
Hardcover, 331 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1999)
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This is not a book I normally would have picked up, had it not been for a book club. However, it was engrossing, well written, and painted an excellent group portrait of the city of Yonkers from 1988-1993. During this time, Yonkers was federally court ordered to desegregate their public housing by adding units in middle class neighborhoods. The people of Yonkers responded like a petulant child. Like any well written story, this book showcased the best and worst of humanity. It highlighted a part ...more
Excellent narrative nonfiction that is the basis of the current HBO miniseries of the same name. The author takes things like city council meetings and makes them highly dramatic. I enjoyed her toggling in-between the politicians in Yonkers and the residents, some of whom were for, and others against, the court-ordered public housing that is the crux of the book's dramatic story.

I was reminded of two other great books, The Promised Land and American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation'
Having grown up in Yonkers on the west side, and having an aunt married to Nick Wasicsko's uncle, this book really hit home. I could relate to visiting friends in Schlobohm, feeling discriminated against merely because of income or immigrant nationalities, and having my old neighborhood mentioned in the book reminded me of hard times growing up and a dream for how the other half lives. It's sad to read about so much racism in the city and not in my backyard philosophy, of how the politicians sta ...more
I picked up LIsa Belkin's book when I read David Simon planned to turn it into a six-part miniseries for HBO. It does not disappoint. (Warning: If you're looking for a book that celebrates America's can-do spirit in resolving difficult racial issues, it is not for you.) Belkin's reporting, set largely in the arena of local politics, and her keen eye for human fallibility, grounds her writing, never letting it stray far from the real world of muddled mixed motives and flawed human characters at t ...more
Christopher Conner
Picked this up for a bookgroup in anticipation of the David Simon series. It is hard to source a copy but I understand a reprint is in the works. The scene of the book is a little dated--public housing is now a relic of housing policy. However, many themes survive the scene such as NIMBYism and perception of poverty and crime. Those interested in contemporary problems of gentrification might be interested in this read since it presents a story of a kind of "de-gentrification" or a movement of di ...more
An extremely detailed, well-reported piece of journalism detailing a number of characters surrounding a housing crisis in Yonkers in the late 1980s. That probably sounds dry, but by focusing on the people involved in the story, Belkin prevents it from becoming too policy-wonky. But I'm not gonna lie—as far as entertainment value goes, it's not exactly Farewell My Lovely.
This was an assignment for my current studio class, as we are working on a project in Yonkers, NY. The book details the Federal desegregation case against Yonkers in the 1980s, the political maelstrom that resulted from the case, and the ramifications of the case on some of the citizens of Yonkers as they either moved into the new townhouses designed to integrate the city or prepared to make way for new neighbors. The book was well-written and serves as a solid history of a specific time and pla ...more
Read in 3 sittings over a weekend. Completely engrossing and stays with you after you've finished. Interesting juxtaposition between Judge Sands in Yonkers and Judge Garrity in Boston - similar issues with different approaches. In the epilogue, Lisa Belkin provides some insight on her opinion of Judge Sands' ruling, noting his residence in an affluent, leafy, white Westchester suburb. Sands rightfully demanded desegregation in Yonkers, yet made a similar (and stronger) choice as those east side ...more
Irene Florio
Written showing both sides. Looking forward to HBO series on this one.
David Quinn
Extremely readable story of the battle to construct low income housing on the east (middle class) side of Yonkers. I enjoyed reading about the particular people Lisa Belkin chose to write about. I though it was a very thought provoking story.
Sharon W.
Feb 27, 2007 Sharon W. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Social justice, African-American studies, Race relations, American history,
Explains and examines racism found within a city (Younkers, New York), when low-income housing is supposed to cross a black-white divide, and how the community was torn apart and later stiched back together.
Amy Withers
This book is the story of what happened when Yonkers was ordered by the courts to de-segregrate public housing. This happened in the late 80's/early 90's. The town has a total meltdown. Scary and sad.
This was one of the 2000 RUSA Notable Books winners. For the complete list, go to

terrific urban reading, questions about public housing, prejudices, myths and difficult emotional component of the issues
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