... rich research and extensive reporting ... It’s clear that Rubinstein tried to be sensitive to the relationships he built with Roberts and his sources, but at times his ideas about the Holly from his upbringing spill into his prose ... He acknowledges the racism of the police and the unjust economic structures that shape the Holly and other local institutions, but occasionally he ends up reinforcing the notion of the Holly as somehow other than the rest of Denver ... Throughout his book, he uses the word 'invisible' to mean neglected or ignored, but in doing so he fails to confront what exactly is not being seen and why and by whom...For the gentrifying whites who began moving into the areas surrounding the Holly in the early 2000s, Black people are not invisible at all. In fact, their visibility causes their new white neighbors to appeal for more policing. Indifference and invisibility are not one and the same ... by exposing the state surveillance, the crooked policing, the structural racism, the broken promises and the poverty that had plagued the Holly for decades, he helps us realize that the problem of violence is far greater than two men and one gun.
... a powerful, up-close look at the criminal, political, and economic forces that can erode a community. But Rubinstein makes it clear this story isn’t just about Denver. It’s about the nationwide spread of the Crips and Bloods from their birthplace in southern California. It’s about the distribution of crack cocaine and the creation of new opportunities for dealers in impoverished neighborhoods. It’s about laws that disproportionately target Black Americans ... It’s a complicated history, but Rubinstein makes it compellingly readable. If you want to understand the origins of the violence ravaging many urban areas and the challenges faced by one man trying to stop it, read The Holly.
There are so many threads to this book and Rubinstein braids them together in a compelling multi-generational saga with a strong narrative and solid investigative reporting. From the civil rights movement of the 1960s to the Black Lives Matter movement, The Holly shows how the American government has viewed activists as threats and how local law enforcement has sabotaged and undermined their work ... Rubinstein details the intricacies and contradictions that exist between law enforcement and Black America through the lens of Northeast Denver and the shocking shooting of a gang member by a local anti-gang activist. He also manages to shine a light on the cost of gutting local newsrooms. Stories cannot be written from press releases and political soundbites alone. For anyone who wants to understand systematic racism in tangible ways, Julian Rubinstein’s investigative work makes it undeniable.
Rubinstein, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Magazine, and whose Ballad of the Whiskey Robber (2004) was a finalist for the Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, has constructed a shattering piece of investigative journalism involving street gangs, race relations, and law enforcement ... This is a gripping deep dive into media underreporting and too-quick judgment, and, most shockingly, into how the criminal-justice industrial complex may be invested in systemic corruption designed to keep drug wars going. Dramatic and wrenching.
Journalist Rubinstein tells the haunting story of a former gang member who tried to go straight and ran into a skein of political, philanthropic, and law enforcement interests ... In a multigenerational saga that builds toward a suspenseful courtroom drama centered on Roberts’ trial for assault and attempted murder, Rubinstein—who grew up and still resides in Denver—creates a historical palimpsest that sets its events against the backdrop of broad social and political changes ... The author offers especially sharp and well-developed scrutiny of the use of active gang members as confidential police informants, but this important book is about more than dubious policing. A larger theme is how difficult it is for gang members to go straight while their former partners in crime still have the power to harm them ... A true-crime tale vividly portrays a Denver hidden by picturesque vistas of its snow-capped mountains.
... engrossing ... Though Rubinstein is clearly on Roberts’s side, he bolsters the book’s veracity with expert sociological and historical context. This vivid story of redemption and loss offers profound insights into the forces that plague America’s inner cities.