Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City

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“An illuminating portrait of Baltimore in the aftermath of the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray . . . Readers will be enthralled by this propulsive account.”—Publishers Weekly

LONGLISTED FOR THE PORCHLIGHT BUSINESS BOOK AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY LIBRARY JOURNAL

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore, a kaleidoscopic account of five days in the life of a city on the edge, told through eight characters on the front lines of the uprising that overtook Baltimore and riveted the world

When Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing an “illegal knife” in April 2015, he was, by eyewitness accounts that video evidence later confirmed, treated “roughly” as police loaded him into a vehicle. By the end of his trip in the police van, Gray was in a coma from which he would never recover.

In the wake of a long history of police abuse in Baltimore, this killing felt like the final straw—it led to a week of protests, then five days described alternately as a riot or an uprising that set the entire city on edge and caught the nation’s attention.

Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar, bestselling author, decorated combat veteran, former White House fellow, and CEO of Robin Hood, one of the largest anti-poverty nonprofits in the nation. While attending Gray’s funeral, he saw every stratum of the city come together: grieving mothers, members of the city’s wealthy elite, activists, and the long-suffering citizens of Baltimore—all looking to comfort one another, but also looking for answers. He knew that when they left the church, these factions would spread out to their own corners, but that the answers they were all looking for could be found only in the city as a whole.

Moore—along with journalist Erica Green—tells the story of the Baltimore uprising both through his own observations and through the eyes of other Baltimoreans: Partee, a conflicted black captain of the Baltimore Police Department; Jenny, a young white public defender who’s drawn into the violent center of the uprising herself; Tawanda, a young black woman who’d spent a lonely year protesting the killing of her own brother by police; and John Angelos, scion of the city’s most powerful family and executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles, who had to make choices of conscience he’d never before confronted.

Each shifting point of view contributes to an engrossing, cacophonous account of one of the most consequential moments in our recent history, which is also an essential cri de coeur about the deeper causes of the violence and the small seeds of hope planted in its aftermath.

Specification: Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City

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15 reviews for Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City

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  1. renwarsreads

    Wes Moore has a way of writing that pulls you into the story and makes you feel like you’re living it. This book is written in a different persons point of view in each chapter. It conveys their fears as they watch the city they live in get torn apart. It’s very interesting to hear each persons perspective on the situation. If I see Wes Moore’s name on it, I know it’s a must read!

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  2. Sheila Gallagher

    The story of what happened in Baltimore in the aftermath of Freddy Gray’s death as told through the eyes of eight people in the Baltimore community. Wes Moore narrates it and does it well. This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to that I did not fall asleep while listening.I liked how each day is used as the timeline and each story is broken up into the days as the timeline overlaps for each person so I could see the same thing through different eyes. The people may not have known each other but they intersected through those five days. No story was more important than any other. I was interested in them all.I liked how Mr. Moore tells what happened to these people after those five days. I also liked and appreciated that he looks at what needs to be done and provided solutions. This book/audio is timely for today.

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  3. Yvonne P. Shaw

    Fantastic

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  4. Roy Payne

    This book was DEEP. I couldn’t put it down. Was eager to open up at every opportunity and soak up the information.

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  5. Emily L

    Told through the lens of the experiences of 8 individuals during the five days after the funeral of Freddie Grey who was killed at the hands of the Baltimore Police, this book dives into the details of not only what happened during the protests and uprising, but what led to those things. It follows the paths of individual people and of an entire city and dives into the WHY – why poverty and violence are linked and what we all need to do to reverse that. It refuses to categorize people but rather help us understand what led them to where they are today. Finally, it helps us share the heartbreak and outrage of a family and a community after Freddie’s death.

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  6. Amazon Customer

    I loved the humanity of the characters and the way the author told the story from their point of view. The book has a lot to say about systemic racism as revealed by the people who lived and worked in East and West Baltimore both before and after the Killing of Freddy Grey.

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  7. julie ferguson

    Very interesting book. I enjoyed hearing the difference perspectives of the people in this book. Glad I read it!

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  8. Pamela H.

    This was a very good book. It bothers me that as a country we are getting worse on racial issues and hate groups of all kinds in this country.

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  9. FiFi’s Mom

    If you are at all familiar with the case of police brutality in Baltimore in April 2015 then you will be most eager to read this book.I highly recommend this book that captures your attention in a big way.I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it.

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  10. Elizabeth C.

    This was a book I never wanted to put down. Read it in 2 days. I highly recommend.

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  11. Margo

    The story of the civic unrest that followed the death of Freddie Grey to.d from multiple perspectives. This is a must read for anyone who is interested in working to create a better society.

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  12. D3ADP0OL

    Wes Moore and Erica Green have crafted an emotionally moving and powerful account of 5 days of civil unrest in the wake of the 2015 police murder of Freddie Grey in Baltimore. This is told to readers through the vantage point of 8 different people from drastically different backgrounds whose lives all were touched by the unfolding events.The story centers on Freddie Grey’s hard life and early death, tracing how systemic, institutional poverty and racism create a system of inequality so extreme that children like Freddie have no chance. Against this backdrop are 8 people struggling to find their own justice or fairness in a system designed to deny exactly that.Seeing through the eyes of both prominent and unheralded residents of Charm city allows you to understand the community in ways the news media cannot. It humanizes the issues in a way that is heartbreaking, inspiring and infuriating often all at once. This book should be required reading for every child in America so that we can understand what is truly driving so many problems in American society. Not just understand, but change hearts and minds so that we can effect the kind of radical change we need to heal as a nation.

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  13. Hokie ’98

    Wes Moore tackles an extraordinarily difficult and important topic while taking the reader on a journey that feels like an intimate conversation. The unique perspectives and experiences of 8 individuals are woven together to paint a picture of the days that unfolded after the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. This is an image that is far too similar to events we are currently living through in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, and many others. Wes concludes the book with a call to action, honing his message around systemic poverty and the ripple effect it has on societies and generations.

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  14. Jasmine M

    Great book!

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  15. Matthew J Shiloh

    I’m a high school U.S. History teacher, and during the first week of school I show my students a photograph of young men climbing on top of a smashed up Baltimore City police car, one image of the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of the Baltimore City Police Department. I ask my students what they see in the picture; some say a riot, others an uprising. Some see the photo as an example of young people rising up against a broken system, while other students see it as a troubling disruption of law and order. The point of the exercise is to get students to understand that depending on their own perspectives, they might have a completely different understanding of an event in American history than someone else does. After reading Wes Moore’s “Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City,” I’ll now add another question: “What DON’T you see in this picture?” The author very successfully captures so much of what is hidden just outside of the frame of that photo: the frustration and anger of young people who have been left behind in attempts to revitalize Baltimore, the pain of family members who have lost loved ones to the pervasive violence of the city (including violence perpetrated by police), the anxiety of police officers who were tasked to control an almost impossible situation, and, most importantly, the life of Freddie Gray and the obstacles he faced long before being placed into a police van where he received a fatal injury to his spinal cord.My grandfather was a police officer in Baltimore City, and before moving to Atlanta where I now teach, I worked with young people in West Baltimore as a counselor, advocate, and tutor. So as I watched the North Avenue CVS in Baltimore burn on television, and a young man in a gas mask take a knife to the fire hose being used to douse the flames, I had conflicted thoughts. I knew I couldn’t really understand the pain and weariness that led to this destruction of property OR the frustration of members of the police and fire departments who were attempting to end it. In “Five Days,” Wes Moore opened my eyes to so much that was not captured by the CNN cameras that week. Another reviewer of “Five Days” claims that the author paints the cops as villains and rioters as heroes, but, in fact, Moore provides a substantial portion of the book to the point of view of Marc Partee, a major in the Baltimore City police force. The author doesn’t celebrate the destructiveness that followed the death of Freddie Gray but rather invites us to be just as infuriated and saddened by the burdens and dashed dreams of the very poor as we might be about burning buildings. Surely that is a message worth pondering as our country reckons with, once again, the legacy of race and criminal justice in America. [I listened to “Five Days” on Audible and felt that hearing the author’s voice additionally enhanced this very personal narrative.]

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    Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City
    Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City

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