Land of Opportunity: One Family's Quest for the American Dream in the Age of Crack

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9780452276833: Land of Opportunity: One Family's Quest for the American Dream in the Age of Crack

An exceptional work of investigative journalism, Land of Opportunity is a probing tale of blighted dreams and misguided ambition. "One of the most fascinating and unforgettable families in American literature . . . destined to become the most prominent tome in the modern inner-city street life genre."--Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land. Land of Opportunity has been optioned by Boyz 'N the Hood director John Singleton for his next film.

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From Booklist:

When Otis Chambers graduated from high school in 1986, his successful older brother returned to their poverty-stricken hometown of Marianna, Arkansas, with a fleet of Cadillacs to mark the occasion. As Otis strutted across the stage to receive his diploma, he was greeted with a standing ovation befitting the scion of a dynasty. For in a few short years, Billy Joe and Larry Chambers, born into a family of 16 and raised in a two-bedroom house, the sons of black sharecroppers, had established Detroit's most successful crack-dealing organization, grossing about $55 million a year, more than any privately owned, legal business in the city. And they did so by using the tools of many successful entrepreneurs: they set up dozens of stores; developed a network of suppliers; monitored the quality of their product; and managed hundreds of employees, even instituting bonus programs. Adler overlays the story of their short but brilliant criminal careers with background on the rural South and postindustrial North. More than a true-crime account, this penetrating analysis of the culture of poverty and need gives context to the fact that dozens of Detroit high-schoolers were begging for the chance to cut up crack rocks for the Chambers brothers. Why? They saw it as a well-paying, after-school job with plenty of perks. A frightening but fascinating account. Joanne Wilkinson

From Library Journal:

This is the story of brothers Billy Joe and Larry Chambers, "crack capitalists" or "ghetto capitalists" now in prison. They came north in the 1980s from Arkansas, where unemployment for young black males approached 50 percent, where many full-time workers qualified for food stamps, and where the per capita income in 1990 was only $6,387. Downtown Detroit was depressed too, and journalist Adler interweaves personal interviews, court records, news accounts, and background chapters reminiscent of Nicholas Lemann's The Promised Land (LJ 2/15/91) to show crack distribution as a rational career choice. He enlarges on the business metaphor to show how sources of supply and quality control were insured and how reliable workers were trained, managed, and recruited from the brothers' hometown. Unlike the individualist cocaine dealer in Robert Sabbag's Snowblind (1976), the Chamberses are portrayed as well-organized mass-marketing distributors, and this book contributes to the literature on the economics of the narcotics trade.
Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Adler, William M.
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