Rebecca's Reviews > Another Day in the Death of America

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
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really liked it
bookshelves: true-crime, read-via-netgalley

By coincidence, I finished this book on the same day I finished A Mother’s Reckoning, Sue Klebold’s book about the Columbine shootings. A more depressing pair of books I defy you to find. I felt that Klebold could have gone further in calling for gun control, but that’s not really a fight anyone can win in America, so most people don’t even try. (Keep in mind the terrible irony that the NRA carried on with their 1999 convention the very month of Columbine, even though it took place in nearby Denver.) By contrast, Gary Younge occasionally offers too much in the way of biased commentary. At times I thought to myself, just get on with it and tell the stories! But when so much is at stake, I guess he feels he has nothing to lose by being forthright about the social forces behind gun deaths.

Crucially, he stands at a slight remove from events in America: born in England to parents from Barbados, he moved to Chicago in 2011 as a Guardian correspondent and lived there for about four years. Although he had young children, so definitely had a stake in safety, he maintains a slight outsider’s perspective that allows for incisive observations, as when he visits an NRA convention and picks up on the link between guns and chauvinistic male sexuality and the false idea that threat is everywhere and Americans need guns to defend their way of life.

Essentially Younge built this book by choosing a 24-hour period (November 22 to 23, 2013) and delving into all the gun deaths of young Americans that he could find on record for that time. (I know he discounted suicide deaths. What I’m not clear on is whether he weeded out older adults.) He ended up with 10 victims, aged nine to 18: seven black, two Latino, and one white. About half of the incidents were at least vaguely gang-related, while in two – perhaps the most crushing ones – there was an accident while playing around with a gun. He interviews neighbors, friends and family members; he reads up on news stories and police reports; he looks at the victims’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. It’s a mixture of true crime recreation (the chapter set in South Chicago reminded me of The Wire), biography and social study. I dare anyone to read this and then try to defend gun ‘rights’ in the face of such senseless, everyday loss.

Food for thought:
Retired Chief Justice Warren Burger: the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word ‘fraud’ – on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”

Did you know that on the very day of the Sandy Hook massacre, a mentally ill man ran amok with a knife in a Chinese elementary school and stabbed 24 people? Guess what? None of them died.

A 1998 study: “for every gun in the house that was used for self-defence in a ‘legally justifiable shooting’, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and eleven attempted or completed suicide.”
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Reading Progress

July 25, 2016 – Shelved
July 25, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
November 20, 2016 – Started Reading
November 21, 2016 – Shelved as: true-crime
November 23, 2016 – Shelved as: read-via-netgalley
December 16, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica Jeffers I have this on reserve at the library, but I'm not sure my brain can really handle it. I am absolutely convinced that the NRA is one of the most evil organizations in this country.

Rebecca I read it pretty slowly: a chapter or just part of a chapter at a time. It is pretty tough reading simply because you see the same patterns repeating themselves over and over, especially as it relates to poverty-stricken areas. I really hope that, rather than just instilling fear, this book is a driver for change.

Snotchocheez Great review, Rebecca. I, too, read A Mother's Reckoning a few weeks ago (as it turned out, coinciding with the 4-year anniversary of Sandy Hook). Indeed, the Second Amendment and the NRA (with the millions of dollars it pumps into convincing lawmakers to keep instruments of death available) is a travesty. While "Bowling for Columbine"'s ridiculous showing up on NRA President Charleton Heston's doorstep to look for answers, Michael Moore's message is right on target: The Columbine, Sandy Hookj, Virginia Tech tragedies would not have occurred without the ready availability of the guns the NRA insists are Americans' Constitutionally-given right to own. It sounds like Younge's effort here is as ineffectual as spitting in the wind (try convincing gun control is the answer to all the "open-carriers" down here in Alabama and you'd be laughed at) but anything highlighting the scourge of gun violence is better than obliviously pretending it doesn't exist, or thinking it only occurs when bad people get their hands on guns (a point in logic I'm sure Nancy Lanza, Adam Lanza's mother, first victim and Bushmaster-provider, would expose the fallacy of, if she was able to do so.

Rebecca I keep asking myself what it will take for the tide to turn. You'd think Sandy Hook and the deaths of children might have done it, but still nothing changes. Younge is quick to point out that many of the victims he profiles weren't your stereotypical "innocents" - they had criminal convictions, or they were involved in gangs, or they used drugs. But that shouldn't mean we feel we can ignore their deaths.

I must be a glutton for punishment: I moved straight from this one to They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement...

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