Year 15, Book 16

16. Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore with Erica L. Green

I’ve been avoiding writing this review for weeks now because part of me just doesn’t know what to say and this book covers events that as a Baltimorean still feel very real and raw even coming up on five years later. These events set off something that we as a city are still reeling from and which only seems to be getting worse instead of better.

The book itself is an excellent look at the five days of protests following the death of Freddy Grey in police custody that culminated in the uprising that became national news. Moore follows 8 people from various parts of the city as they lived through those five days in order to examine the systems and the structures in place that lead to these events. He follows a black police commander, the lawyer for the Grey family who makes his living getting settlements on police brutality cases, a city councilman, a juvenile public defender, the sister of a man who died a few years early in police brutality case who had been staging her own protests long before Freddy Grey, son of the owner of Orioles, a young protestor whose future once seemed bright but who encountered countless obstacles that derailed his life, and the manager of Baltimore’s famous roller rink Shake ‘N Bake.

He also talks about how our country needs to reckon with the systems that lead to the deep poverty that many people in Baltimore experience, and how it results in people like Freddy Grey being expected to “pick himself up by his bootstraps” even though every card was stacked against him from the second he was born. It’s a book I hope many people read to help understand not only what is plaguing Baltimore but also many other places in our country. I give it a 9 out of 10.

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