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Money Rock: A Family’s Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  36 reviews
To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.
W.E.B. Du Bois

Meet Money Rock, a charismatic young manand Charlottes flashiest dealerat the center of a decades-spanning and eye-opening, riveting social history, in the tradition of Ghettoside

Money Rock is the gripping storyby turns action-packed, uplifting, and tragicof
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 25th 2018 by The New Press
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  152 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Darcia Helle
While the man called Money Rock is the central figure here, Pam Kelley doesn't focus solely on his story. We're taken deep into the heart of poverty, racism, and drug dealing in the south. This book excels at showing us how these issues are tied together in ways outsiders don't see and the media doesn't talk about.

The writing is engaging, with a narrative style that pulls us in. There is nothing textbook or dry about this book. We meet the people involved, and we see them at their best and
Theo Emery
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pam Kelley's Money Rock: A Family's Story of Cocaine, Race and Ambition in the New South chronicles the life of Belton "Money Rock" Platt, a young drug dealer struggling to succeed in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city riven by segregation, redlining and a judicial system that disproportionately punishes non-white citizens. I'm a graduate school classmate of Kelley's, and read her drafts with excitement as she hammered this riveting narrative in a tight, gripping chronicle of Platt's struggles, ...more
I originally thought this would be mostly a book about Belton Platt and the infamous shootout... But it is really much more than that...

It is part Charlotte history lesson and part "how did we get here exactly" retrospective for CLT citizens. I give it three stars since it's appeal outside the Kingdom of Mecklenburg might be limited. But if you are a resident of the city, new or old, I highly recommend this book.

Well done Pam Kelley.
Whether you live in Charlotte, Chicago or Chattanooga this book will resonate with you. The story is local but parallel realities exist in cities all across America.
Thank you for your review.
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-books-read
This book Money Rock draws you in immediately. Its family's story about race, drugs and tragedy, but also a tale about a growing American city. The author does a great job in writing and describing the story about the social changes happening in the growing city and the powerful ambition of one man who wanted to make his mark and strive for the things that mattered most to him, at all costs. This book read as if I were watching a movie. This book was recommended to me and I highly recommend it ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This book was so very interesting. This is the story of Belton Lamont Platt, his life and how his decisions may have affected other members of his family. The story starts in a project in Charlotte, NC. Mom was very strong, Dad not so strong. We then get a glimpse into this man's life, the good, the bad and the indifferent. Yes, there is abuse, violence, cheating but it is also a story of how one can turn their life around. Very concise read with enough information to give you a picture of his ...more
Jonathan Green
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An uncommonly powerful story of a hustler's life and his redemption evoked by immersive reporting and prose that flows like a river. Highly recommended.
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley for this Advanced eGalley of "Money Rock" by Pam Kelley.

"Money Rock" is about the rise, fall, and redemption (if you choose to call it such) of Belton Lamont Platt. Platt sold cocaine in Charlotte during the 80's, just as crack was becoming an epidemic, and made a name for himself as a dealer and friend of the community. It wasn't unusual for him to use his money to help those in need.

Pam Kelley relates the story of Platt (nicknamed "Money Rock") using the political,
Rosalyn Allison-jacobs
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is an exceptional feat to seamlessly weave an intimate biographical narrative with a treatise on modern-day social commentary. Such is the achievement of Pam Kelley in Money Rock: A Familys Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South. Her captivating account of the criminal exploits of Belton Money Rock Platt simultaneously provides a nuanced portrayal of a successful but morally conflicted drug dealer, while providing insight into the persistent social and economic context that ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I'm originally from Tennessee, I've lived in Charlotte since 1997 and I'm proud to call this city my home. I've seen much change here over the past 20 years, so I approached this novel eagerly, wanting to learn more about Charlotte's history before I moved here.

"Money Rock" is the story of Belton Lamar Platt, a notorious drug kingpin who was a part of a shootout with another dealer in a housing project on the south side of Charlotte in 1985. No one was killed in the melee, but it was
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am giving this book five stars (sort of to my own surprise, because this is not usually the type of book to which I award five stars). I was predisposed to like reading it, no matter how hard the story, because I live in Charlotte and am familiar with every place mentioned, which, as usual, makes for an interesting read. But, I liked the book much better than I expected to - it is well-written, with just the right (to me) mix of narrative, personal stories, and cold hard facts. Ms. Kelley did ...more
Pat Gubbins
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I grew up in Charlotte and was a reporter for the Charlotte Observer during the time this story was unfolding. I had visited some public housing residents and once interviewed Carrie Graves, the mother of "Money Rock," the son who turned to dealing cocaine and was quite successful until the law caught up with him. At the time, I was unaware of what was really going on behind the scenes. But Pam Kelley's book, so carefully researched and beautifully written, helped me realize the pain and ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much about my hometown from this book, and very well-written too.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Money Rock: A Family's Story of Cocaine, Race and Ambition in the New South by Pam Kelley traces the tribulations and triumphs of Charlotte, NC native Belton Lamont Platt (Money Rock) and the city itself.

Kelley interweaves Belton's life and the history of Charlotte together in a story that reveals how public policies affect personal choices and how the effects of both types of decisions span generations.

Having been a graduate school classmate of Kelley's privileged to see it as a work in
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anna Mayhew As a native Charlottean, I approached Money Rock with eagerness and some preconceptions about the city of Charlotte. As I read this fascinating nonfiction book, novelistic in form, I realized how little I knew about my hometown. Money Rock, on the one hand, tells of Belton Platt, aka Money Rock, his felony convictions, prison time, his eleven children, and his ultimate emergence from incarceration as a Christian minister. The underpinning character in the book is Platt's amazing ...more
Kathryn Schwille
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
With deftness and scope, Pam Kelley tells an absorbing story of one very smart Boy Scout who turned one corner after another into an alley he lived to regret. Kelley's observations and insights shed light on the problems of not just one drug dealer, not just one city, but a whole nation's history with drugs, poverty, discrimination and incarceration. It's a meticulously reported and well-told tale that reads like a novel. And it is essential for anyone who cares about cities, justice, families ...more
Nancy Stancill
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pam Kelley's book is a triumph in every way. It's the fascinating story of a youthful drug dealer who went to prison and emerged as a newly-minted pastor. It's the multilayered story of his family, including the 11 children he fathered as a young man. It's also the insightful story of Charlotte, North Carolina in the last twenty years of the twentieth century, how the city ignored the plight of the poor black population, even demolishing a much-loved African American neighborhood. Kelley, an ...more
Mark O'brien
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This well-documented book does a great job of putting things into perspective. There's the stupidity and greed of people in the drug trade, and there are the economic, social and governmental forces that help make drug-dealing look attractive. The author takes a deep look at some government policies that maybe sounded smart at first (The War on Drugs, redlining, civil rights delays) and she also examines the life and family of Money Rock, the drug dealer. She shows both the good and the bad of ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I kept wanting to like this book more but at the end I found it to be an acceptably interesting read.

Great credit to the author for thorough and diligent research but I had a hard time getting drawn in or emotionally invested in the text.

I may have set an unfair comparison by expecting it to be more like "The Corner" by David Simon and Ed Burns or "The Short and Tragic Life of Rober Peace" by Jeff Hobbs.

Money Rock came more across like a 5 part newspaper series.

It is worth the time to read but
Judy Goldman
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this fast-paced, beautifully researched and written, intelligent account of racial injustice, the war on drugs, and the slow pace of societal change. Money Rock's story is so compelling -- he's such a charismatic character -- you won't be able to put this book down until you turn the last page.
Veronica Jones
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I believe this book should be read by every person in America. The insights into the black communities are eye opening.
It reads like fiction and transforms all dry and boring parts into interesting points of light.
I didnt want to put this book down. I learned so much and was taken somewhere I had never gone before.
Kudos to this first time author. Please keep writing.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-read, 2019
I grew up in Charlotte and never realized that there were two different Charlottes. There still are two different Charlottes. Learning about Money Rock really opened my eyes to the fact that while everyone thought we were bridging the race gap, all we have really been doing is pretending. This is especially true in Charlotte. I remember when they decided to stop the busing policy when I was in high school and how disappointed I was, not realizing that busing didnt fix the problems, it only hid ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
For anyone living in Charlotte or interested in socio-economic issues, this book has great background on the town and how it "grew up." It's a sober tale of a drug dealer turned born-again minister who turned his life around, despite the odds against him. Charlotte struggles with upward mobility, and this book is a good example of obstacles in our communities.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting tale of the rise and fall of a Charlotte drug dealer. Also gives a history of the city and its neighborhoods. The well-intentioned but misdirected efforts by city planners to provide low-cost housing for the black communities are a lesson for todays leaders. ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating history of Charlotte seen as seen through the eyes of a struggling black family. Money Rock is such a reminder that it's impossible to understand why things are the way they are today if we don't look back and try to understand how we got here.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I dont normally choose to read nonfiction but I was quickly drawn in to the story of Money Rock, his family, and Charlotte. Pam Kelley does a great job of intertwining the stories with thought provoking facts and statistics. ...more
K.R. Gaddy
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully crafted story and brilliantly reported. Reads like a novel even though it's nonfiction. Tells the story not only of Money Rock, but how Charlotte rose to a modern southern city and the affects that had on the people living there. A fast, suspenseful read.
Lisa Kitterman
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
this is a real look
at a family, struggles with poverty and getting out of that cycle and sadly often not.
it left me thinking about the accident of birth and wondering what we can do to remedy the root causes.

Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
A very worthy read.
Bruce Harbison
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked it. An amazing story of a world I have not had contact with. I always try to read a "Southern" book when I am in Charlotte, NC.
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Pam Kelley worked for more than 30 years at the Charlotte Observer, where her reporting won honors from the National Press Club and the Society for Features Journalism. She contributed to a subprime mortgage exposé that was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. She lives in Cornelius, North Carolina.

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