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The Savage City by T.J. English

The Savage City by TJ English

In his non-fiction historical narrative, The Savage City, journalist T.J. English writes about a far different New York City than the relatively calm city of today.

In the early 1960s, uncertainty and menace gripped New York, crystallizing in a poisonous divide between a deeply corrupt and cynical police force, and an African American community buffeted by economic distress, brutality, and narcotics. On August 28, 1963—the day Martin Luther King Jr. declared “I have a dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial—two young white women were murdered in their Manhattan apartment. Dubbed the Career Girls Murders case, the crime sent ripples of fear throughout the city, as police scrambled fruitlessly for months to find the killer. But it also marked the start of a ten-year saga of fear, racial violence, and turmoil in the city—an era that took in events from the Harlem Riots of the mid-1960s to the Panther Twenty-One trials and Knapp Commission police corruption hearings of the early 1970s.

The Savage City explores this pivotal and traumatic decade through the stories of three very different men:

• George Whitmore Jr., the near-blind, destitute nineteen-year-old black man who was coerced into confessing to the Career Girls Murders and several other crimes. Whitmore, an innocent man, would spend the decade in and out of the justice system, becoming a scapegoat for the NYPD—and a symbol of the inequities of the system.

• Bill Phillips, a brazenly crooked NYPD officer who spent years plundering the system before being caught in a corruption sting—and turning jaybird to create the largest scandal in the department’s history.

• Dhoruba bin Wahad, a son of the Bronx and founding member of New York’s Black Panther Party, whose militant activism would make him a target of local and federal law enforcement as conflicts between the Panthers and the police gradually devolved into open warfare.

Early reviews of The Savage City:

“A comprehensive, still-shocking exhumation of racial discord in America.” – Kirkus

“English paints a vivid, gritty panorama of a city wracked by racial insurgency. . . . a gripping, noirish retrospective of an era when brutal misrule sparked desperate rage.” -Publishers Weekly

“It’s dripping with the kind of detail that’s too good to make up.” – Mother Jones

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