When I agreed to read and review this book; I knew little about Assata Shakur--but, enjoyed Barbara Casey's writing style. What did I think of Casey's latest, nonfiction book: Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave? I am pleased to share my review--and offer my readers the opportunity to win a $25 Amazon gift card in the book tour giveaway at the end of this post.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my review. All opinions are my own.
About the Book
In May 1973, Assata Olugbala Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in which she was accused of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and assaulting Trooper James Harper. This resulted in her indictment of first-degree murder of Foerster and seven other felonies related to the shootout. A member of the Black Panther Party, she became a prime target of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Counterintelligence Program. When she joined the Black Liberation Army and went into hiding, between 1973 and 1977, she was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List for three bank robberies, the kidnapping and murder of two drug dealers, and the attempted murder of two New Jersey police officers.
In March 1977 Assata Shakur was convicted of murdering state trooper Werner Forrester and was imprisoned. Two years later she broke out of the maximum-security wing of Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey, pistol in hand, as she and three cohorts sped out of the prison grounds. In 1984 she was granted political asylum in Cuba where she has lived ever since. On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her to the Most Wanted Terrorist List, the first woman to be listed. Assata Shakur: A 20th Century Escaped Slave is the story of Assata Shakur, before she became a fugitive and since.
Casey offers a Well Written, Well Researched Biographical Piece on the Life and Times of Shakur. While the book is certainly about Assata Shakur--the author offers a great deal of detail into the world surrounding this woman. Readers will learn about Shakur's family, associates, activities, and the growth of her activism over her lifetime. For those readers fairly unfamiliar with the many cases linked to Assata Shakur in the 60's and 70's--the author helps us understand the connections of Shakur to various activist organizations--and the roles of those groups in social justice, activites (criminal and non-criminal), and social unrest during the times of Shakur's alleged crimes.
Casey Writes a Book Based in Facts. Readers are not going to leave the book with much of Casey's direct opinions about Assata Shakur nor about her crimes. They will; instead, find dates, times, places, activities, words from Shakur herself, information from trials, details from the police, and numerous sources that help create the story of this political prisoner. I like Casey's mostly unbiased presentation of both sides of the story. She isn't trying to rationalize Shakur's actions or activities--nor condemn them. She is simply presenting a life story that many of us are not old enough to remember--and many have forgotten over time.
Would I recommend Assata Shakur? This book is one for anyone with an interest in racial activism, social injustice, and true crime writing. For many readers, it will offer some deeper thoughts into recent issues in the U.S. relative to race and police interaction. It is difficult to read a politically/socially charged book--and not form an opinion of blame or of understanding. Casey offers readers a number of facts about Shakur--and her life both before and after for her escape from a U.S. prison to Cuba. There were a few times when I needed to reread a section to keep everything in proper time/space order--but, found it very detailed and well formatted. This book is a wonderful learning opportunity for those interested in Shakur's life and background in the Black Liberation movement.
Meet the Author
Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, as well as book-length works of nonfiction true crime and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Her previous nonfiction true crime work, Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly, has been optioned for a major film and television series. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant for independent publishers and writers, and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix; Fitz, a miniature dachshund; and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
Connect with the author: Website
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