Paul Bryant's Reviews > Another Day in the Death of America: A Chronicle of Ten Short Lives

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge
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The idea of this book is simple – take a random day (Saturday, 23 November 2013) and write an account of all the kids who were shot and killed in that 24 hour period in the USA. There were ten. (Note – suicides are omitted because they are never reported. So the figure is probably higher than ten.)

The author Gary Younge (a black British journalist) quickly makes clear : this is not a book about the need for gun control, although to a British reader, it may appear that it is. Gary Younge is writing about the whole difficult Gordian knot of intractable problems which has led the USA into the horrendous levels of violence it now suffers.

We do have to mention some comparative figures.

In the USA (population 323 million) in 2014 there were 15, 872 homicides, of which 11,008 were homicide by firearm

In the UK which has a population of 65 million there were 573 homicides in 2016 in total of which 51 were by firearms

There are cities in America which have more murders than the whole of the UK. Such as Chicago (population around 3 million) – 762 in 2016.

TEN KIDS AND TEN USEFUL MORAL LESSONS

Here are the basic details of the cases in this book.

Jaiden Dixon. Grove City, Ohio. Aged 9. Killed by his mother’s deranged ex-boyfriend.
Moral of this story : sometimes there’s nothing you can do.

Kenneth Mills-Tucker, Indianapolis. Aged 19. Shot on the street, no one arrested, no motive discovered.
Moral of this story : don’t walk around at night.

Stanley Taylor, Charlotte NC. Aged 17. Shot by a 27 year old guy at a gas station. No motive discovered. No arrest.
Moral of this story : Don’t drive a car.

Pedro Cortez, San Jose, California. Aged 18. Drive by gang murder. No arrest.
Moral of this story : don’t be in a gang or know anyone in a gang or know anyone who’s in a gang which you’re not aware of.

Tyler Dunn, Marlette, Michegan. Aged 11. Accidentally shot by best friend aged 12.
Moral of this story : don’t have a friend who lives in a house full of unlocked loaded guns.

Edwin Rajo, Houston. Aged 16. Accidentally shot by his female best friend.
Moral of this story : if you’re going to buy a gun for self-protection against all the gangbangers in the neighbourhood, learn how to use it.

Samuel Brightmon, Dallas. Aged 16. Random street shooting. No arrest made.
Moral of this story : if you’re young and black, don’t leave the house.

Tyshon Anderson, Chicago. Aged 18. Gang murder. No arrest made.
Moral of this story : this was the only acknowledged gangbanger of the ten victims. So, I guess, the moral is you reap what you sow. But the other nine victims never reaped what they sowed. So that moral is just not true.

Gary Anderson, Newark NJ. Aged 18. Shot in a drive-by, everyone agreed it was mistaken identity. No arrest.
Moral of this story : don’t look like anyone else.

Gustin Hinnant, Goldsboro NC. Aged 18. Everyone agrees, shot by accident. They were aiming at the other guy in the car. No arrest.
Moral of this story : don’t leave the house, don’t have any friends

THE DAILY TORRENT

This book is a companion piece to another wrenching piece of journalism, Ghettoside by Jill Leovy, which I also recommend. Both books cover the same ground in different ways. But heck, there are so many others too. This is not uncharted territory. Great tv shows like Homicide and The Wire have charted all this stuff already. But it seems every time we get reminded of it, we then forget.

What Gary Younge does is lament the invisibility of these kids’ deaths (they barely register in the media, after 24 hours they’re gone and forgotten) and link them to various immense trends in American society. He interviews the families where he can (some refuse to speak); he transcribes 911 calls; he creates portraits of these kids as far as he’s able. As you can see from the summary, in seven of the ten cases no murderer was ever discovered, no arrests were made.

This book takes a snapshot of a society in which these deaths are uniquely possible and that has a political culture apparently uniquely incapable of creating a world in which they might be prevented

We get pages on the collapse of manufacturing, the implosion of the black family, the failure of politics, the corrosive segregation of the American city –He throws out various insights. Regarding the famous school/workplace/mass shootings, he remarks

They disturb America’s self-image and provoke its conscience in a way that the daily torrent of gun deaths does not

And he ploughs on to the next sad case. Okay, you may be thinking this is not a very cheerful or hopeful book. You’d be right. “Researching this book has made me want to scream” he says in the Afterword. That may be your reaction too.
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Reading Progress

September 26, 2016 – Shelved
September 26, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read-nonfiction
July 29, 2017 – Started Reading
July 31, 2017 – Shelved as: true-crime
July 31, 2017 – Shelved as: modern-life
July 31, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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message 1: by Terri (new)

Terri I am surprised there were only ten that day - many more kids in their 20's I guess - and mortified by the "no arrests" and that we are unwilling/unable to stop this. I wonder which politicians we could elect who would have the pair needed to stop this.


Paul Bryant I think it is impossible for the foreseeable future because of the NRA's masterful stranglehold on so many electorates. You would have to unseat many many congressmen to get any kind of gun control, and well, really, the toothpaste has been squeezed so far out of the tube it can never be got back in.


Anne Harvey An utterly wrenching book. God knows the UĶ is beset by imperfections and searing injustices, but we are divided from the USAby so much more than an ocean.


Paul Bryant One interesting and pretty grotesque point was made very well today for me by a BBC report on the Las Vegas massacre. They interviewed a gun shop owner - his shop was called something like "Second Amendment Guns" - and it became clear that these no-gun-control-ever guys have a fundamental view that is different to the one I thought they had. I thought they were saying that to combat the bad guys you need to put more guns in the hands of good guys. But no. They believe that every person in the USA should be able to arm themselves against the American government itself. They fundamentally believe that the federal government is now or could become oppressive to the individual and owning a private arsenal is your only hope of preserving your personal liberty.
Maybe that's the view of only the hardcore, but there does seem to be a strong element of fear of the federal government inspiring the fanatical hatred of all types of gun control. So that even banning automatic military-style weapons (which would seem reasonable to most Europeans) is seen as an act of oppression.


message 5: by David (new)

David Sarkies Great review. Very chilling. Compare this to Switzerland where everybody is required by law to have a gun in their house, though I have heard that they don't have the ammunition (that is stored elsewhere).


message 6: by Paul (last edited Oct 05, 2017 03:35AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant that's a good idea - abandon gun control, it's never going to happen in the USA, but instead instigate an immediate ban on ammunition


message 7: by Greta (new) - added it

Greta Amazing review, Paul.


Paul Bryant thanks Greta....


Ms.pegasus Your review very effectively expresses with irony the efforts required in these neighborhoods to keep your child safe (the cocooning the U. of Chicago physician describes in the book). Great review.


message 10: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant thanks, Ms P


Henry true crime. just saying.


message 12: by Amelia (new) - added it

Amelia Strydom Excellent review, Paul.


message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant thanks Amelia


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