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Thirty years ago, in the midst of the 1967 riots that rocked Detroit, the Algiers Motel was the site of a brutal confrontation. Three black men were killed and nine others were brutally beaten by, as John Hersey describes it in The Algiers Motel Incident, an "aggregate of Detroit police, Michigan state troopers, national guardsmen, and private guards". Responding to a telephoned report of sniping, the police group invaded the Algiers Motel and interrogated ten black men and two white women, none of whom were armed, for an hour. By the time the interrogators had left, the three men had been shot to death and the others, including the women, beaten. Hersey spent months interviewing those involved in the incident and sorting out the ensuing court proceedings in order to demonstrate that there had in fact been no sniping and that the three black men were murdered "for being thought to be pimps, for being considered punks, for making out with white girls ... for being, all in all, black young men and part of the black rage of the time".
The son of American missionaries, Hersey lived in China until the age of 10, after which he was educated in the U.S. at Hotchkiss and Yale. He also studied literature at Cambridge University. He was a war correspondent for "Time" and "Life" magazines during World War II; after the war he wrote for various magazines and taught at Yale, among other colleges. He was married twice and had five children. His first novel, "A Bell for Adano" (1944), received the Pulitzer Prize for literature. His 1946 account of the bombing of Hiroshima remains a classic of journalism. Many of Hersey's works have a historical focus, including his posthumous story collection, "Key West Tales", published in 1994.
From the Publisher
Originally published in 1968, Hersey's account of this 1967 Detroit police murder of three young black men (and beating of several others) is reprinted here with a new introduction. Hersey interviews many subjects--police, victims, and witnesses--in depth, and examines court proceedings, choosing as the main characters in his account the three police officers accused of masterminding the assault and one of their young victims. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.