Dead Opposite: The Lives and Loss of Two American Boys

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9780805026863: Dead Opposite: The Lives and Loss of Two American Boys
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The story of two boys--a privileged white student and the desperate black gang member who shot and killed him--reveals the chasm that divides us and the hopes, dreams, and heartaches we have in common. 25,000 first printing. $20,000 ad/promo.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Christian Prince, a 19-year-old Yale student from an affluent Maryland family, was fatally shot in New Haven, Conn., in 1991; 16-year-old ghetto resident James (Dunc) Fleming Jr. was accused of the crime. At trial, he was found guilty of conspiracy, but the jury reached no decision on the murder charge; in his second trial, Fleming was exonerated of murder. He is now serving a nine-year sentence. In his sociological exploration, Douglas (Class: The Wreckage of an American Family) explains that, as the offspring of a comfortable white family, he understands the Princes better than the Flemings, but his account is scrupulously fair to both families. His investigation of this tragedy led him to conclude that the Kerner Report's 1967 prediction has come to pass: there are indeed two societies in the U.S., which are, as Douglas puts it, "not at war, not separate but totally estranged." He believes many African Americans, at least in urban areas, live in a world where conventional values have been turned upside down, with no expectation of reversal. A depressing report. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

In February 1991 in New Haven, Connecticut, a random act of violence took the life of 19-year-old Christian Prince, an upstanding Yale University sophomore. Prince was shot with a .22 caliber handgun by 13-year-old gangbanger James Fleming, who after two trials was found guilty of conspiracy. Douglas documents this tragic case as "a story about life--two lives, and the lives that surround them." He interviews both Prince's wealthy parents (Christian's father is a high-powered Washington, D.C., attorney, his mother a successful businesswoman) and Fleming's parents, who live on welfare in New Haven. Douglas presents the Flemings as caring parents who tried to exert a stabilizing influence on a son who succumbed to the pressures and pleasures of the streets. While trying to remain evenhanded, Douglas freely admits feeling more connected to Prince's grieving family. Although not intended as a true-crime account, Douglas' effort works better as a chronicle of a senseless crime than a commentary on social ills. Sue-Ellen Beauregard

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