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The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood [Paperback]

David Simon , Edward Burns
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 15 1998
The crime-infested intersection of West Fayette and Monroe Streets is well-known--and cautiously avoided--by most of Baltimore. But this notorious corner's 24-hour open-air drug market provides the economic fuel for a dying neighborhood. David Simon, an award-winning author and crime reporter, and Edward Burns, a 20-year veteran of the urban drug war, tell the chilling story of this desolate crossroad.

Through the eyes of one broken family--two drug-addicted adults and their smart, vulnerable 15-year-old son, DeAndre McCollough, Simon and Burns examine the sinister realities of inner cities across the country and unflinchingly assess why law enforcement policies, moral crusades, and the welfare system have accomplished so little. This extraordinary book is a crucial look at the price of the drug culture and the poignant scenes of hope, caring, and love that astonishingly rise in the midst of a place America has abandoned.

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From Amazon

This startling look at desperate, drug-addled inner-city lives ranks as one of the grittiest--and best--examinations of underclass America available. Like Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here and Leon Dash's Rosa Lee, The Corner shines light on a horrific subculture of addiction, crime, dependency, and violence. Authors David Simon (who wrote Homicide, the book that inspired the TV series of the same name) and Edward Burns (a former cop) are muckraking reporters who operate in the finest tradition of American journalism. They spent an entire year on the corner of Fayette and Monroe in West Baltimore, getting to know its open-air drug market and its people. Although the authors present strong evidence that the so-called war on drugs cannot be won, The Corner has no political agenda. It is simply a powerful testament to the bleak situation confronting many urban neighborhoods. At once deeply unsettling and extremely rewarding, this humane book deserves a wide audience. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This portrayal of a year in drug-crazed west Baltimore will satisfy neither readers looking for a perceptive witness to the urban crisis nor those in search of social analysis. Simon (Homicide, LJ 6/1/91), a crime reporter, and Burns, a Baltimore police veteran and public school teacher, mask their presence in the scene with an omniscient style that strains credibility, and the chronological framework blunts the impact of their most compelling themes. The authors salute the courageous but futile efforts of individual parents, educators, and police officers but deny the possibility of a social solution to the devastation they acknowledge is rooted in social policy. A more compelling account is Our America: Life and Death (LJ 6/1/97) on the South Side of Chicago, based on interviews conducted by 13-year-old public housing residents LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman in 1993. For larger public libraries. (Photos not seen..
-?Paula Dempsey, Loyola Univ., Chicago
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Fat Curt is on the corner. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shake yourself to the core and read this book! Nov. 5 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I am a white suburban woman who began to read this book to learn about a life that is very different from my own and because I wanted to learn about the IV drug culture, having a cousin who shot drugs in NYC for 15 years. This book should be read by anyone who thinks that have the answer to the ills of the city, or education, or healthcare, or poverty or whatever. They will quickly see that the problems that plague our inner cities are much like trying to treat a cancer in the human body: you can't try and single out or isolate one specific problem area and try to fix it. You need to look at the entire system, taking into account the interconnectedness of these problems when you try and come up with a solution.
It is naive and utterly foolish to think that you can isolate the issues of the city and solve them independently- you can't. I urge anyone who has any influence over public policy of any kind to spend a few days and read this book. It will forever alter your view on how to "fix" the problems of neighborhoods like these and make you realize you are up against something that is much bigger than it appears. And policy makers: it is not as easy as as having a war on drugs. You need to start by bringing a thriving economic job base back into our cities so people have the opportunity to become meaningfully employed and can try and have a chance at life. When you strip away one's economic opportunities- you are cutting off their blood supply. It is just that simple. A MUST READ FOR ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE USA!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the lost and forgotten ones March 31 2000
Format:Paperback
this book took me back to an area i grew-up in and escaped from in my early 20s. I've known many persons such as the characters in this book. They are real and do exist unfortantly. I am now employed and daily working with the court system in Baltimore, Maryland where I grew up. I know that some of these characters lives have not changed for the better at least because i've seen them in court. I know that the areas are worse than before because I visit them to do home visits for my job, and I know that the police still perform as they did when the book was written, and Baltimore's crime rate remains the same. Sad as it is, ther are still no real solutions to the problem that the arthors wrote about, and the corners are still in existance, but the players, or shall I say victims are becoming younger everyday. The faces are new and the conditions are worse. The Corner, in my opinion is a powerful story. Unlike some readers, I at times had to but it down, collect myself, and then pick it up at a latter time. To be in it, but not of it was hard and always is. To see that someone else has taken the time to witness it and but it into story is heartwrenching. I know these characters, feel for them, cry for them, and each day I pray for them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars greatest book i ever read. Aug. 24 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
WEll i first want to start off by saying that this book was amazon and i actually saw the movie on hbo first then it made me go out and pick up the book.I just wish there could have been more scenes thats how much i enjoyed it. I also want to know is there going to be any more parts added like when they come to visit their old neighborhood to visit thier old friends the ones that are still alive and they try to help them as well. There needs to another episode with the titled of "THE CORNER": THE VISIT OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT BECAUSE THAT WAS TO GOOD AND SO REAL BECAUSE THERE ARE ALOT OF FAMILIES THAT GO TROUGH THE SAME EXACT PROBLEMS SO THAT ALL I HAD TO SAY AND WHAT I THINK ABOUT IT BUT TRY THINKING ABOUT ANOTHER PART BECAUSE I KNOW THIS WAS BASED ON A TRUE STORY TO BUT AS I SAID BEFORE IT WAS GRET I LOVED AND IM STILL WAITING ON THEM TO SHOW SOME REPEATS ON HBO IT WAS TO GOOD. THANK YOU
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!! One for the bookshelf Feb. 19 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As a social worker in Baltimore, I have the opportunity to work with this social class of people. One of my clients spotted the book and became instantly interested. He knew all the people in the book, and lived right smack in the corner of the open air drug market. After talking with him, he said the book was extremely accurate - And yes the names are real. Blue is no longer at the house (it's another abandon rowhouse). Fat Curt has passed away. And yes - even with all the publicity, the users and dealers are still there. This is an excellent view of what life is like out htere. We are mostly outsiders and will never truely understand, but this book gets you just a little bit closer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and shockingly real! May 23 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I grew up in that neighborhood and many of my relatives still live there today. I believe I'm qualified to say that Simon's portrait of West Baltimore life is extremely accurate. However, the authors could have presented the complete story, Fat Curt wasn't always the soulless junky that Simon highlighted, he had a family and friends, I was one of them.
Athletic talents got me out, but what of those that can't shoot a ball, or rap, or those that have to attend a West Baltimore public school. Life is tough in the ghetto, I think everyone knows that. Now Simon needs to write a book of solutions to the problem that he so profoundly explained.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Book July 28 2003
Format:Paperback
This is one of my top ten non-fiction books of all time. Here is why: First, it is well-written and intriguing. There is little to no academic jargon to wade through. It is a plain spoken book about the realities of inner-city life. It is not difficult to read in a literary sense, but certainly in an ethical and moral sense. This brings me to the second reason why I found it to be such an important book: It puts a face on the experiences of poor minorities living in urban areas. I'm 23 and I've been working in inner-city communities since I was 15. When I hear people talk disparagingly about minorities, inner-city youth, single moms, "welfare moms," my heart breaks, and in many ways, I am also angry that people talks so much about a life they know so little about. I found that this book accurately put a face on the people who are so often referred to as one statistics or another (related to drugs, single moms, incarceration, welfare). There was no glorification and little over-victimization of the people in the book and their experiences as poor, black, and affected by drugs and the underground economy. This book should be required reading for all Americans who wish to learn more about and develop informed opinions about poor, inner-city communities and the people who live there. I find it particularly relevant to those interested in drug laws and sentencing, as well as access to drug treatment. I think that this would also be a very helpful book for people who work in urban areas or are planning to someday (social work, education, ministry). The book leaves very big questions to be answered by the reader. How do I judge the people in this book? What would I do if I grew up in such a community? How do I go forth from here? A very powerful book.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Does no one care?
The Corner is about life on the corners of inner-city Baltimore, also the setting for the series, The Wire written by the same two men. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2009 by Len
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the movie
A great book! The book goes into more details than the HBO miniseries and some of the details in the movie were altered. A definite must buy!
Published on June 7 2003 by Shanny
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reporting but politics do creep in
This is an excellent book and work of reporting, as others indicate.

But to say the book has no political agenda is, I think, incorrect. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars unmatched writing skills
Simon and Burns, in one paragraph, display more talent and creativity than most writers will dispense in a lifetime.
I bought this book 5 years ago. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2002 by Thomas Pearce
5.0 out of 5 stars A peek into the urban world
Reading 'The Corner', you are transported into West Baltimore and the life of the denizens of Monroe and Fayette. Read more
Published on Sept. 2 2002 by "rkfj"
4.0 out of 5 stars brutely honest
this book describes some of what i see everyday as i work in and around johns hopkins hospital. i enjoyed the book, but found the small print very difficult. Read more
Published on May 6 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book -- where is miniseries?
Wonderful book. No pussy-footing in this book, it is an in your face look on The War on Drugs, and why it doesn't work. The author did a BEAUTIFUL job on describing this in words. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2001 by Frank Covington
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow But Worth It
I would give this book 4 stars, overall it does exactley what it says it will, "take you into a year in the life of an inner city neighborhood. Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2001 by Chelsea
5.0 out of 5 stars THE CORNER THAT AMERICA HAS IGNORED
I READ THIS AND WAS VERY MOVED. I HAVE NOT SEEN THE MINISERIES BUT THE BOOK HAS LEFT SUCH AN INDELIBLE IMPRINT ON ME JUST AS BELOVED THE MOVIE DID. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2001 by FanOfTheArts
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This was a fascinating book that gave me a new perspective on the hardships inner city youths and adults have to endure.
Published on Aug. 9 2001 by Rob B.
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