Monday, February 16, 2015


During the weekend, over-dosed on all the hearts and flowers, I read a review of the book, "Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America", by Jill Leovy. Leovy is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times who started a blog in 2006 called The Homicide Report. In the blog, she attempted to cover at least the basics of every murder every year in Los Angeles County. From the blog, she developed the subject matter for her book.  Here's the blog address: The Homicide Report. The LA Times has begun a book club, "Reading Los Angeles" and this book is their first selection. LA Times book club. From the Times Publisher and Chief Executive, Austin Beutner: 

"Each month, we will select a book; journalists and staff from the Times will moderate a discussion about the book, and, on occasion, we'll suggest other ways to explore the topic ranging from dining to arts and culture."

Here's the good news (excerpted from the New York Times book review) at the end of her book:

"At her book’s conclusion, Leovy writes about the astonishing decline in the Los Angeles murder rate over the past few years. In the wake of this excellent news, it might be tempting to dismiss her book’s message as less than urgent. That, however, would be a mistake. Homicide remains the No. 1 cause of death for African-­American males ages 15 to 34 — and solving these crimes should be a top priority for any police force."

I spent a couple of hours, after reading this news, chasing down data on murder and violent crime rates.  It's such a complicated subject with oceans of data, so many interpretations and so much conjecture that I finally gave it up. The Atlantic sums it up here.

From The Atlantic

"But over the past 25 years, the tide of crime and violence seemed to simply recede. Crime is about half of what it was at its peak in 1991. Violent crime plummeted 51 percent. Property crime fell 43 percent. Homicides are down 54 percent. In 1985, there were 1,384 murders in New York City. Last year there were 333. The country is an undeniably safer place. Growing urban populations are one positive consequence."

One researcher linked the declining murder rates all over the country with legalized abortion. Another linked the decline to lead, yes, lead. Theories abound. Read here


  1. Anonymous1:44 PM

    I remember you telling us about this book at lunch the other day. then yesterday I read the LA Times about the book club and noticed this book - but didn't remember it was the same one. Sounds very interesting. I'll definitely read it. Thanks for the info.

  2. The BBC magazine article about lead was fascinating. I thought it would be about lead bullets but it was about lead as in gasoline, etc. I've always thought most crime was mental illness- related. This kind of proved it to me. I'm going to read the GhettoSide book.
    BTW- the L.A. Times book club would be a good place to find books for our book club.