Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. He is the author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace and The Tourists. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Meet Money Rock. He’s young. He’s charismatic. He’s generous, often to a fault. He’s one of Charlotte’s most successful cocaine dealers, and that’s what first prompted veteran reporter Pam Kelley to craft this riveting social history—by turns action-packed, uplifting, and tragic—of a striving African American family, swept up and transformed by the 1980s cocaine epidemic.
The saga begins in 1963 when a budding civil rights activist named Carrie gives birth to Belton Lamont Platt, eventually known as Money Rock, in a newly integrated North Carolina hospital. Pam Kelley takes readers through a shootout that shocks the city, a botched FBI sting, and a trial with a judge known as “Maximum Bob.” When the story concludes more than a half century later, Belton has redeemed himself. But three of his sons have met violent deaths and his oldest, fresh from prison, struggles to make a new life in a world where the odds are stacked against him.
This gripping tale, populated with characters both big-hearted and flawed, shows how social forces and public policies—racism, segregation, the War on Drugs, mass incarceration—help shape individual destinies. Money Rock is a deeply American story, one that will leave readers reflecting on the near impossibility of making lasting change, in our lives and as a society, until we reckon with the sins of our past.
An extraordinary portrait of street life in the oldest all-black town in America.
Tales of an All-Night Town is the riveting story of the charismatic James Bollinger, law enforcer and desperado. Bollinger was shot to death on November 14, 1973, on the main street of Brooklyn (a.k.a. Lovejoy), Illinois, a tiny town across the Mississippi River from St. Louis with ten churches and echoes of a nightlife that once earned it a third name, “Little Las Vegas.” Focusing on Bollinger’s rise and fall, Tales also is a unique journey back to the early Seventies, when the empowering, hope-inducing vibes of the black pride movement could still mitigate, if not erase, the crushing effects of the poverty and racism that had not – and still has not – been overcome.
This was the era of “attitude,” of exuberant Afro hairstyles and platform shoes and bellbottoms, of “Super Fly” and The Godfather and the heyday of Soul Train, of jukeboxes blaring Marvin Gaye, Johnnie Taylor, and Elvis Presley’s all-too-relevant then – and now! – “In the Ghetto.” Tales captures it all in documentary style, with Bollinger’s main man, the Dancer, and other unforgettable characters often stepping out of the action to tell the story in their own voices, which contain as much humor, eloquence, and courage as they do resignation, anger, and despair.
When Tales of an All-Night Town was first published, in 1979, it was compared to Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Ericka Blount Danois (Love, Peace, and Soul) has likened it to The Wire. The story that Elin Schoen Brockman found during four years of visiting Brooklyn to investigate what was at first reported as one cop shooting another in self-defense was not of good guy versus bad guy; it was an epic tale of men who were both good and bad, of the women who loved them, and of the hard facts of life and death in Brooklyn’s bars and crap rooms. As the Dancer says, “I had to do things you call bad. But they wasn’t bad to me, you know. They kept me alive. It was survival.”
“Stands the test of time…I was struck by the precision of its reporting, the lean rigor of its language, the empathy of its voice. When white writers enter a black world, especially a black world of drugs and sex and violence like that of Lovejoy, there has been a terrible history of exoticization. Elin Schoen Brockman, to the contrary, finds the stubborn ordinary humanity, the glorious complexity of the human condition, in Lovejoy’s demimonde. She neither valorizes nor condemns its people; she watches and listens and pays the ultimate compliment of taking them as they are.”
--Samuel G. Freedman (“Breaking the Line”)
Later she rises to the pinnacle of mid level bureaucracy taking us deep into DEA Headquarters for a look into one of the scariest places of all. You will laugh out loud as you learn the truth about meth, the pharmaceutical companies and federal drug law enforcement.