The racial turmoil of late 1960s and early '70s Boston is expertly conjured in J. Anthony Lukas's COMMON GROUND, which explores the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis in 1968. The book chronicles the attempts to bring the black and white communities together, both through simple experiments in social engineering- ...
The racial turmoil of late 1960s and early '70s Boston is expertly conjured in J. Anthony Lukas's COMMON GROUND, which explores the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis in 1968. The book chronicles the attempts to bring the black and white communities together, both through simple experiments in social engineering--like televising a James Brown concert to prevent further rioting--and the more problematic method of busing black students into white schools, a practice that caused even more strife. But COMMON GROUND also delves into the complex mechanics of trying to carve out a life in a modern city. Lukas focuses on the efforts of three families--the black Twymons, the working-class Irish McGoffs, and the white, patrician Divers--to enhance, improve, and preserve their way of life against a background of huge social upheaval. He shows how well-meaning political decisions can become embroiled in corruption, how middle-class ambitions can destroy the delicate balance of a neighborhood, and how defending a way of life can swiftly degenerate into violence and brutality. Along the way, Lukas also lays bare the intricate societal relationships that make up a community, sensitively presenting the motivations of a dizzying array of characters from every social level. In addition to being a valuable history lesson, COMMON GROUND is an essential aid to understanding the convoluted interaction of political forces at work in any modern movement for social change.
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