Lazarus and the Hurricane: The Freeing of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter

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9780312253974: Lazarus and the Hurricane: The Freeing of Rubin

This remarkable true story begins in a Brooklyn ghetto when a group of Canadians meets Lesra (Lazarus), an illiterate black teenager who wins their hearts. They end up bringing him to Toronto to help with his education, and while learning to read, Lesra finds a copy of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's The Sixteenth Round. It was a book destined to change Lesra's life forever, and the lives of his adopted family.

Rubin Carter, the subject of Bob Dylan's song "Hurricane," was a number one middleweight boxing contender who had been wrongfully imprisoned after a white jury found him guilty of the murder of three whites in 1966. A huge public outcry followed the publication of The Sixteenth Round in 1974, culminating in a retrial, which was a virtual reenactment of the original travesty, with Carter receiving the same triple life sentence.

Moved by Lesra's passion, his adopted Canadian family contacted Carter and reinvigorated the legal battle. The inspiring relationship that ensued forms the heart of Lazarus and the Hurricane--a riveting legal drama, fast-paced murder investigation, and above all, a moving account of hope, humanity, and the indomitability of the human spirit.

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Review:

In 1979, Lesra, a 16-year-old African American boy from an impoverished Brooklyn neighborhood, befriended three thirtysomething Canadians in the borough on business. The boy, whom the Canadians flew to Toronto to visit them, had led a life so far from the comforts of nature that he stumbled trying to walking on a lawn. Charmed by the exuberant and obviously intelligent Lesra (Lazarus), and aware that without decent health care, a safe environment, or an education he would have little or no hope of success in his dangerous neighborhood, this exceptional group of people invited him to live with and be educated by them. Lesra thrived under their watch--but the story of Lazarus and the Hurricane is only beginning.

After finally being taught to read, at age 16, Lesra immerses himself in The Sixteenth Round, the autobiography of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. The African American prizefighter was tried and convicted in 1966 for murders he didn't commit (the book's title refers to his bouts with the legal system as he tries to get himself exonerated). Lesra and his Canadian "family" pursued both a cause and a friendship with Carter that would transform all of their lives. The Canadians are active but not particularly distinct personalities in this book--a group of do-gooders who don't want too much credit. And Lesra, though he is finely described in early chapters, also falls away from the center of the story once Carter comes into view, for the Hurricane is a centrifugal force that cannot be ignored. Widely read and sensitive, but also pleasure-loving and intensely vital, Carter is the reason readers will be unable to forget this story. And they shouldn't. As Carter revives his fight with the support of his new friends and generous lawyers, working through a byzantine maze of court rulings and appeals, the shortcomings of America's legal and prison systems are made painfully clear. The compelling, bittersweet story in Lazarus and the Hurricane should be a call to action. --Maria Dolan

From the Publisher:

A basis for THE HURRICANE, a major motion picture from Universal Pictures

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