Rising from the Ashes: Los Angeles, 1992; Edward Jae Song Lee, Latasha Harlins, Rodney King, and a City on Fire

Norton. May 2024. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781324030904.
Gr 6 Up–As news quickly spread that the four officers accused of using excessive force in the beating of Rodney King in 1992 received “not guilty” verdicts, protests and violence unfolded across Los Angeles. The city on fire and loss of life was just the culmination of years of unrest and racial tensions. Yoo explores the historical and social contributions to the riots, anchoring the narrative through the lives of King; Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old girl shot by a Korean store owner; and Eddie Lee, who was shot and killed during the uprising. In a relatively brief text, Yoo offers a complex and nuanced look at racial inequities, the war on drugs, and policing. The impossible task of distilling years of conflict and turmoil into a condensed space is achieved with grace and representation, including interviews, photos, news reports, and more. The narrative unfolding of events is sometimes interrupted by the changing of perspectives or contextual background on a new subject being introduced; however, the overall flow and delivery of information are solid. The photos, which include crime scene photos of gunshot wound victims, may be triggering for some readers.
VERDICT Yoo’s book is an important, balanced text for collections working to build digestible historical titles related to race and America.

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