Good Kids, Bad City: Book summary and reviews of Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson

Good Kids, Bad City

A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America

by Kyle Swenson

Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson X
Good Kids, Bad City by Kyle Swenson
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Book Summary

The true story of the longest wrongful imprisonment in the United States to end in exoneration, and a critical social and political history of Cleveland, the city that convicted them.

In the early 1970s, three African-American men - Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Rickey Jackson - were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution's case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon.

The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame, and Rickey were released. But while their exoneration may have ended one of American history's most disgraceful miscarriages of justice, the corruption and decay of the city responsible for their imprisonment remain on trial.

Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland's history - one that, to this day, is fraught with systemic discrimination and racial tension - Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why. Good Kids, Bad City is a work of astonishing empathy and insight: an immersive exploration of race in America, the struggling Midwest, and how lost lives can be recovered.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Cinematically written, this powerful tragedy of racial injustice and urban dysfunction will make readers question the idea that America can promise "justice for all." - Publishers Weekly

"In this sharply written, emotionally resonant rendering, the author makes crystal-clear the heartbreaking realities of wrongful imprisonment, race, and the many flaws of the American criminal justice system." - Kirkus

"Good Kids, Bad City is a searing examination of a wrongful conviction case made all the more outrageous - and thus, necessary reading - in the context of an incisive examination of Cleveland, and how criminal justice failures are a microcosm of the city's problems. With heart and brio, Kyle Swenson illuminates the plight of three men done cruelly wrong for far too many decades, and the work required to ensure this cannot keep happening." - Sarah Weinman, author of The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World

"A blistering indictment of the justice system and a hard-boiled portrait of post-industrial America, Good Kids, Bad City lays out the constellation of institutional failures that put three innocent men behind bars for decades. Kyle Swenson captures the pain, the frustration, and the hopes of these men with sensitivity and heart, while addressing his native Cleveland with the tough love of a local who hasn't yet given up on his town." - Albert Samaha, author of Never Ran, Never Will

"Kyle Swenson is a marvelous reporter with an equally keen eye for small human moments and sweeping civic history. Good Kids, Bad City tells a new Midwestern history and examines the brutality of our justice system, but above all I will remember the people - the lives - that Swenson depicts in all their glorious intimacy. This book sings." - John Lingan, author of Homeplace: A Southern Town, a Country Legend, and the Last Days of a Mountaintop Honky-Tonk

"Kyle Swenson lays bare the full spectrum of American tragedy: from the volatile streets of 1970s Cleveland to the cold machinations of the city's justice system to the sparks of hope and outrage that refuse to dim in the hearts of those railroaded by that system's blatant racism. Good Kids, Bad City is relentless reporting and impactful storytelling at its best." - Joshua Wheeler, author of Acid West

"Good Kids, Bad City got its grimy Rust Belt hooks in me from the opening line and never let me go. It's a page-whizzing narrative, but it's also a critical work of history, an investigative triumph, and a gorgeously rendered portrait of innocent men who deserved so much more from their city and their government." - Joe Tone, author of Bones: Brothers, Horses, Cartels, and the Borderland Dream

The information about Good Kids, Bad City shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Kyle Swenson

Kyle Swenson is a reporter for The Washington Post. A finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, he is also the recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Reporting. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, The New Republic, and Longreads. A graduate of Kenyon College, he lives in Washington, D.C.

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