Don't Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America

In the mid-1990s, David M. Kennedy spearheaded Operation Ceasefire, a series of interventions aimed at bringing down the high youth homicide rate in Boston. The project worked so well that it became widely known by another name: the Boston Miracle. In his new book, Kennedy, now a professor of criminal justice at John Jay College, writes, "I always hated that name, it wasn't a miracle, it was hard damned work."

Don't Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America is Kennedy's passionate account of that work, which has seen striking results not just in the roughest sections of Boston but in many of the bleakest neighborhoods of the United States. While his goals were lofty -- healing toxic relationships between the police and blighted communities, rewriting the conventional wisdom on gangs, drugs, and violent crime -- Kennedy proposed solutions so simple that cops often laughed him out of the room.
Years of research showed that a very small percentage of gang members was actually driving inner-city violence -- and that most of the kids joining gangs felt trapped and scared. The program Kennedy created in response involved calling them into forums with police and a host of community workers and social service providers. Gang members were told that the community cared about them and would help them, but the violence had to stop. If it didn't, they were warned, heavy law enforcement would come down on them hard. The program left gangs intact but "surgically [excised] the violence from the mix." In most cases, violent crime plummeted almost immediately.

Kennedy's chronicle of his two and a half decades working on urban crime is highly readable, if occasionally repetitive. He is by turns hopeful and wry, though consistently generous to the many colleagues he's worked with in the field. He is also bracingly honest, about everything from poisoned race relations and vicious local politics to the zigzagging emotions he experiences as he immerses himself in this important work. He writes, "I have gone from feeling, at least from time to time, pretty damned smart, to feeling deeply, profoundly humble and not infrequently ashamed."

April 21: " 'Pull' includes 'invitations to tea' at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.