On January 8, 2011, twenty-two-year-old Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a Tucson meet-and-greet held by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The incident left six people dead and eighteen injured, including Giffords, whom he shot in the head.
Award-winning author and fifth generation Arizonan Tom Zoellner, a longtime friend of Giffords's and a field organizer on her Congressional campaign, uses the tragedy as a jumping-off point to expose the fault lines in Arizona's political and socioeconomic landscape that allowed this to happen: the harmful political rhetoric, the inept state government, the lingering effects of the housing market's boom and bust, the proliferation and accessibility of guns, the lack of established communities, and the hysteria surrounding issues of race and immigration.
Zoellner offers a revealing portrait of the Southwestern state at a critical moment in history- and as a symbol of the nation's discontents and uncertainties. Ultimately, it is his rallying cry for a saner, more civil way of life
In the beginning of the book Zoellner states, "This book is an attempt to make sense of a fundamentally baffling event." and "this is not a work of objective journalism". One of these sentences is true. One is definitely not.
It started off well, recounting the happenings of January 8, 2011 in Tuscon, Arizona. It was interesting reading the details of the day, including who was there, why and where. It was even heartbreaking in parts. But a few pages in it started losing it's appeal to me. I appreciate the fact that the author wanted to really detail everything but he went into incredible detail about things that we didn't really need to know. Zoellner could have left out some of the minute details and saved the reader a lot of useless descriptions.
The book jumps from one subject to another in an instant. First you are reading about that tragic day, next you are reading about the Kennedy assassination, then pieces of history of Arizona. The author even threw in stories about his childhood, which did eventually bring us to his meeting with Gabrielle Giffords, but not without boring us first.
I feel this book is more of an transcript of a rambling, grief stricken man, trying to make sense of a personal tragedy, then a work of literature. Though I did learn quite a few things about the state of Arizona I would never have known if I hadn't read this book. That is the only reason for the 2 stars.
So, in case you were wondering the first statement was false. This didn't make sense of the event at all. I don't think you can blame an economy or history for one persons decision to take lives.
Maybe I'm just not the audience the author intended this book for. Other may very well enjoy this book. I did not.
So if you think you may like it, give it a try. You may like it more than I did.
2 out of 5 stars.
It is in stores on December 29. You can pre-order it here: A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America