Hard Revolution By George Pelecanos

 


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I have had this book on my bookshelf for several years. Don’t ask me why I did not pick it up and read it for the great read it turned out to be. I have read several of Mr. Pelecanos’ books over the years but this one I enjoyed more than any of them.

Hard Revolution starts by introducing Derek Strange and several of his friends when they were very young. It takes place in Washington, DC where they were born and grew up over the years amidst changing social situations. During their youth Derek, a black boy, and his best friend, Billy Georgelakos, a white boy, did almost everything together. They traveled through each other’s neighborhoods, sometimes being gawked at, sneered at, and laughed at. Some, mostly in their own age range, could not understand why a black and a white boy would hang out together. It did not happen in the days of the 50’s and 60’s.

Derek’s parents, Darious and Althea, were hard working people doing all they could to raise Derek correctly. Darious worked over a hot stove in a restaurant while Althea was a domestic worker. Dennis was a son of theirs too. Dennis was not the hard and caring person that Derek was, despite his parents attempt to make him so.

Frank Vaughn was a detective, white, and he truly tried to keep justice in the neighborhood as well as the city of Washington. The feelings between the whites and blacks were very much on edge. Some of the younger blacks thought the world owed them a living while the whites thought they owned the blacks. The streets were very much separated by class and color. Frank Vaughn tried to smooth things but it was an impossibility.

Hard Revolution gives a terrific account of the racial tensions of those years and shows through the characters in the book how difficult it was to live during those times. There was NO normal. Gangs and groups of mostly young people did not want a peaceful coexistence with each other. They would be more likely to hurt, or even kill, others to show THEY were in charge. The police had a never-ending job.

Hard Revolution follows history, giving very vivid descriptions of the fights, the burning, the killing, and the attempt of law enforcement to keep control of Washington. Derek became a police officer when he was old enough. He was an exception being a black policeman in a white controlled police force. Derek made friends but many of his former friends turned against Derek’s pleas for calm. Some of his friends turned to violence, as did many blacks in the city.

The book also covers Martin Luther King’s actions in peace making while seeking justice for all blacks. Dr. King had many supporters that came to Washington during these times, most of who attempted to help him, but some that fought peaceful resolution. You will be amazed at the vivid descriptions and detail in Hard Revolution. The author tells it like it was. There were victims on both sides of this brutal showdown.

I highly recommend this book. It is a winner with non-stop action.

Reader review by Cy Hilterman.
Reviewer of many types of books.

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