LA Riots & Harry Potter

Title: Los Angeles Riots: Three Decades of Revolution

Editor: Darryl James

Synopsis: This book is a bunch of interviews with people in the Los Angeles area about the riots in both the 1960’s and 1990’s. The editor offers a brief history of race riots in America, but the interviews make up the bulk of the book. Interviewees range from police officers and city officials to bystanders and participants.

Things I Liked: I’ve been reading a lot of Michael Connely lately, whose books are set in LA. He frequently refers to the 1992 riots and once he said that anyone who didn’t understand why people would burn down their own neighborhoods was probably part of the problem. I didn’t know anything about the riots (I was only 8 when they happened, and by the time I got to high school, the history books hadn’t caught up yet) and had no idea why people did what they did. This book really helped me understand how disenfranchised and marginalized the African American community felt, which resulted in them destroying something that they didn’t feel was theirs to begin with.

I also enjoyed reading first-hand accounts of the riots. I like a good story, and primary sources are usually the best story tellers.

Things I Didn’t Like: I felt like the interviewer was trying to defend a thesis by using the interviewees as supporting evidence. Often I felt that he was leading the subject or had something that he was trying to get them to say. The most obvious example of this was in his interview with the LAPD officer. Sometimes he didn’t even ask a question – he made a statement (which occasionally sounded like an accusation) to which the officer responded.

I thought the history of race rioting in America could have benefited from slightly more academic writing. It would have been nice if the editor had gone into a little more depth and been a little more objective.

Title: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

Author: JK Rowling

Synopsis: What can I say? It’s the seventh and final installation of the Harry Potter series. Harry, Ron and Hermoine are no longer protected as underage wizards, out of school and on the run looking for horcruxes. Their search for the horcruxes leads them down another path – a quest for the Deathly Hallows. Prophecies are fulfilled, predictions are met and secrets are revealed in what I think was a very satisfying end to the series.

Things That Tickled Me: The code names for the people on Potterwatch are genius! Kingsley is “Royal,” Lupin is “Romulus,” Lee Jordan is “River” – absolutely brilliant. And I already thought JK had outdone herself by naming a werewolf Remus Lupin…

Things That Gave Me Pause: Harry’s parents died in 1981? That means he was born in 1980. It doesn’t really matter, but it’s weird to think of Harry as older than me considering these books came out when I was in high school.

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