The Savage City
Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge
By T. J. English
(William Morrow Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780061824586, 528pp.)
Publication Date: March 2012
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A finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime
On August 28, 1963—the day Martin Luther King Jr. declared "I have a dream" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—two young white women were murdered in their Manhattan apartment. The so-called Career Girls Murders case sent ripples of fear throughout the city as police scrambled to find the killer. But it also marked the start of a ten-year saga of fear, racial violence, and turmoil in the city—as events progressed from the Harlem riots of the mid-1960s to the Panther Twenty-one trials and police corruption hearings of the early 1970s. The Savage City explores this traumatic decade through the stories of three very different men: George Whitmore Jr., an innocent black teenager coerced into confessing to murder; Bill Phillips, a brazenly crooked officer whose public testimony sparked the largest scandal in NYPD history; and Dhoruba Bin Wahad, a founding member of New York's Black Panther Party, caught in the crossfire as the conflict between the Panthers and the police escalated into open warfare.
T.J. English is the New York Times bestselling author of Havana Nocturne, Paddy Whacked, The Westies, and Born to Kill, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. His screenwriting credits include TV episodes of NYPD Blue and Homicide, for which he was awarded the Humanitas Prize. He lives in New York City.
“[T.J. English] returns with a swashbuckling, racially charged nightmare about New York City in 1960s. This is one nightmare worth reliving because Mr. English so vividly recreates an era….he graphically reconstructs a rampaging decade through three lives.”
-New York Times
“A searing profile of an ugly New York….The Savage City is meant to make us look back in anger and sorrow, perhaps to reflect upon what stayed the same as things changed.”
-New York Daily News
“An epic look at the racial animus, fear, and hatred that characterized [a] troubled decade. . . . Through the lives of three ostensibly unrelated men, English peels back the underlying turmoil that led to the violent period and the unaddressed social ills that remain to this day.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“It’s dripping with the kind of detail that’s too good to make up.”
“A brutal reminder that New York was not always such a welcoming place.”
-New York Post
“English paints a vivid, gritty panorama of a city wracked by racial insurgency. . . . a gripping, noirish retrospective of an era when brutal misrule sparked desperate rage.”
“A comprehensive, still-shocking exhumation of racial discord in America.”
“T.J. English has the mastered the hybrid narrative art form of social history and underworld thriller. The Savage City is a truly gripping read filled with unexpected twists and turns. Highly recommended.”
“The Savage City is a necessary examination of the people, passions and maligned principles by which New York City once lived and died. English has a magnificent sense of the manner in which people, landscape, and history are bound together. Every world is a corner and every corner is a world.”
-Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin