When Crack Was King: A People's History of a Misunderstood Era by Ramsey, Donovan X.

When Crack Was King: A People's History of a Misunderstood Era

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A "vivid and frank" (NPR) account of the crack cocaine era and a community's ultimate resilience, told through a cast of characters whose lives illuminate the dramatic rise and fall of the epidemic

"A poignant and compelling re-examination of a tragic era in America history . . . insightful . . . and deeply moving."--Bryan Stevenson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Just Mercy

The crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s is arguably the least examined crisis in American history. Beginning with the myths inspired by Reagan's war on drugs, journalist Donovan X. Ramsey's exacting analysis traces the path from the last triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement to the devastating realities we live with today: a racist criminal justice system, continued mass incarceration and gentrification, and increased police brutality.

When Crack Was King follows four individuals to give us a startling portrait of crack's destruction and devastating legacy: Elgin Swift, an archetype of American industry and ambition and the son of a crack-addicted father who turned their home into a "crack house"; Lennie Woodley, a former crack addict and sex worker; Kurt Schmoke, the longtime mayor of Baltimore and an early advocate of decriminalization; and Shawn McCray, community activist, basketball prodigy, and a founding member of the Zoo Crew, Newark's most legendary group of drug traffickers.

Weaving together riveting research with the voices of survivors, When Crack Was King is a crucial reevaluation of the era and a powerful argument for providing historically violated communities with the resources they deserve.

Author: Donovan X. Ramsey
Binding Type: Hardcover
Publisher: One World
Published: 07/11/2023
Pages: 448
Weight: 1.5lbs
Size: 9.30h x 6.20w x 1.60d
ISBN: 9780525511809


Award: National Book Awards - Nominee


Review Citation(s):
Library Journal Prepub Alert 02/01/2023 pg. 9
Kirkus Reviews 06/01/2023
Booklist 07/01/2023 pg. 10
Publishers Weekly 08/07/2023

About the Author
Donovan X. Ramsey is a journalist, author, and voice on issues of race, politics, and patterns of power in America. His reporting has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, GQ, WSJ, Ebony, and Essence. He has been a staff reporter at the Los Angeles Times, NewsOne, and theGrio and has served as an editor at The Marshall Project and Complex. Ramsey holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Morehouse College.