8/23/16 - Blind Shady Bend by Adina Sara - 9/10 stars.
"This novel was nothing short of utterly engaging, at times mesmerizing,
addictive and magical."
- Jennifer Word
8/30/16 -Three Yards and a Plate of Mullet by Adam Gordon Sachs - 6/10 stars.
"If you like quirky, gonzo-pulp journalism stories, combined with ‘Friday Night Lights’
sports dramas (two genres difficult to mix), you might enjoy this book."
- Jennifer Word
9/06/16 - Bodies on the Potomac by Daniel O'Neil - 9/10 stars.
"I absolutely recommend this book if you like thrillers, mysteries, political intrigue,
or conspiracy plots. If you like romance, there’s a little of that, too. If you like all of
those things, you’ll love this book. Oh, and if you love dogs on top of everything else,
you’ll utterly adore this novel. I know I did."
- Jennifer Word
9/13/16 - BOB by Tegon Maus - 7/10 stars.
"The book isn’t bad, and despite feeling rushed and crowded, the writing is still
competent. If you like science fiction, you’ll probably still enjoy this story enough
to justify the couple of afternoons or evenings spent reading it."
- Jennifer Word
10/04/16 - Illusion of Memory by JZ Holden - 9/10 stars
"I’m glad I read this book, and I highly recommend it to others. It will make you think
and contemplate quite a few things in life, both your own, and others, past and present.
And I guarantee this story will stay with you long after you read the final page."
EMP Publishing is proud to announce that Senior Editor Jennifer Word has teamed up with the amazing folks at Authors Large & Small (https://authorslargeandsmall.wordpress.com/) to post periodic reviews of books released by independent authors, publishers and small presses. We are proud to support the small press, as well as indie authors and their publishers by providing increased exposure of their books. Please keep in mind, however, that all reviews will be honest, so won't all be glowing five-star reports. Reviews will also cover a broad range of genres.
American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton
By Lise Pearlman
From Regent Press
eBook & Paperback published October 1, 2016
American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton, by Lise Pearlman, is a hefty read. Historical nonfiction is not my usual reading genre choice, but I found this book especially appealing, despite that fact, given its seeming relevance to the obvious racial tensions in our country today. I wanted to learn from this book just exactly what the societal atmosphere was like back during the Newton trial in 1968, and compare it to today’s race relations and the general societal levels of satisfaction versus malcontent that remain. In short, I read this book to see if anything had changed at all, and desperately hoped to find a positive answer. What I found inside this book was unexpected on many levels, but on others, not as much.
The book’s title is a bit misleading, and perhaps even the general back jacket description. This book does not simply cover the Huey Newton trial in 1968. This book is a tome, filled with a very heady level of historical information, and it covers trials from as far back as 1901, all the way through the O. J. Simpson case. It also covers the entire history of the Black Panther Party (BPP), from its inception to its ultimate demise, along with the founders and key players over the decades of its existence. It covers this section of American history in a very objective manner, delivering not only the negative aspects (which is all I’d ever seen in basic depictions in other ‘fictional’ movies or random mentions on TV), but also reveals some very positive outcomes of the BPP, that I had absolutely no idea about.
Lise Pearlman knows her facts on the aspects of trials, the jury picking process, the Newton trial, and every minute detail, so it would seem, about the BPP. And it’s a lot of information to take in. I’m terrible at history in regards to remembering specific names, dates or places, so I won’t even attempt to recall any of that information from her book in my review. But if you are anything like me, you’ll probably want to break this book up (as it already is, in fact) into three separate reading sections. The first third covers the old jury process, which was not fair in any aspect, and uses real trials (like Sacco and Vanzetti) and others, as clear evidence. The second portion of the book covers the entire Newton trial, from beginning to end, but the BPP does become intertwined and overlaps with that section quite a bit. The final third of the book covers Newton’s life post trial, and his continued involvement with the BPP, the entire history of the party from day one of Newton’s arrest, all the way through his trial, his time served, and his life post-release from prison.
If you were ever even remotely interested in the Black Panther Party and wanted to know more about what it was, what it did, and what it stood for, this is the book to read. It covers the entire life of the party, the bad and the good, in a very objective way, but also tells it more in a lyrical prose manner, as opposed to feeling like you’re reading an actual history book in your high school sophomore U.S. history class that you are about to be quizzed on. In other words, you’ll learn a lot of facts and history that you didn’t previously know, but the information is delivered in a manner that makes it interesting, far from boring, and will truly educate you on this portion of our country’s history.
I wish the ultimate conclusion I could reach from this book, however, is that as a country we have come so far from the racial tensions and police bias and brutality against African Americans and other minorities in the last forty-nine years since the day Huey Newton was pulled over by a cop in 1967 (to write a ticket for an unpaid traffic fine) that ended in one police officer dead, another wounded, and a young black man facing an unfair trial under a jury that was not representative of his own peers.
The whole point of the book, in regards to the Newton trial is that something good did come of it. Because of the Newton trial forty-eight years ago (1968), every American that goes to trial now is given a chance at being represented in a fair manner by a true group of their own peers; something that we as a nation have been taking for granted for decades, and this book pulls into light how the Huey Newton trial itself was the true catalyst for bringing this change about in our American legal system. The Newton case changed that dynamic. What was revolutionary was the number of women and minorities and a black foreman in a death penalty case when they traditionally served in such cases in token numbers, if at all, depending on the state. That’s the good news to take away from this book.
The sad part of this book’s conclusion, is that the general prejudice, bias, racial profiling, brutality and racism in our country, and (most sadly, specifically from our own police forces) hasn’t seemed to change at all. The past few years, and to be even more specific, the summer of 2016 (which Pearlman does highlight), would seem to illustrate how tensions are not improving, but escalating at a truly alarming rate.
This is a very important book, and a treasure trove of historical facts and information that is difficult to absorb in only one reading. This book deserves to be read more than once, but also (as already suggested) in sections, giving oneself time to fully absorb the information in each separate section first, before moving on. In fact, this book should probably become assigned reading for any African American History class or African American Studies in the classroom. The genre listings on Amazon are myriad, including: History, Discrimination & Racism, Politics & Social Sciences, United States History, African American History, Sociology, and Law. If that all sounds like a lot of genres to cover in one book, it is.
As I stated in the beginning of my review, this is a hefty book, and a lofty read, at 536 pages. This is the second book written by Pearlman covering the same and/or similar topics, and the first book (if you enjoy this one, you may want to check it out next) The Sky’s the Limit People V. Newton, the Real Trial of the 20th Century? is even longer, at 826 pages. In fact, I believe this second book may have been an attempt by Pearlman and her publisher, Regent Press, to streamline information into a shorter and more readable history of events. But if you’re up to the challenge and want to truly delve into a deep swimming pool of facts and history that just is not covered in any high school or regular college level U.S. History class, I recommend checking out both these books.
I’m not usually into this genre (historical nonfiction, and specifically covering legal trials), and even I found this to be an intensely interesting read. If any of the topics mentioned in this book review are of interest to you, then I feel very comfortable recommending this book, for those interested in learning about these aspects of our country’s history. It’s not very pretty to look at, and many of the conclusions are ultimately disturbing, but truthful. And as the saying goes, “You can only run from the truth for so long; it has a tendency of eventually catching up.”