Read Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism's Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist by Thomas Peele Free Online
Book Title: Killing the Messenger: A Story of Radical Faith, Racism's Backlash, and the Assassination of a Journalist|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 896 KB
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The author of the book: Thomas Peele
Date of issue: February 7th 2012
ISBN 13: 9780307717573
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Reader ratings: 7.9
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When a nineteen-year-old member of a Black Muslim cult assassinated Oakland newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey in 2007—the most shocking killing of a journalist in the United States in thirty years—the question was, Why? “I just wanted to be a good soldier, a strong soldier,” the killer told police. A strong soldier for whom?
Killing the Messenger is a searing work of narrative nonfiction that explores one of the most blatant attacks on the First Amendment and free speech in American history and the small Black Muslim cult that carried it out. Award-winning investigative reporter Thomas Peele examines the Black Muslim movement from its founding in the early twentieth century by a con man who claimed to be God, to the height of power of the movement’s leading figure, Elijah Muhammad, to how the great-grandson of Texas slaves reinvented himself as a Muslim leader in Oakland and built the violent cult that the young gunman eventually joined. Peele delves into how charlatans exploited poor African Americans with tales from a religion they falsely claimed was Islam and the years of bloodshed that followed, from a human sacrifice in Detroit to police shootings of unarmed Muslims to the horrible backlash of racism known as the “zebra murders,” and finally to the brazen killing of Chauncey Bailey to stop him from publishing a newspaper story.
Peele establishes direct lines between the violent Black Muslim organization run by Yusuf Bey in Oakland and the evangelicalism of the early prophets and messengers of the Nation of Islam. Exposing the roots of the faith, Peele examines its forerunner, the Moorish Science Temple of America, which in the 1920s and ’30s preached to migrants from the South living in Chicago and Detroit ghettos that blacks were the world’s master race, tricked into slavery by white devils. In spite of the fantastical claims and hatred at its core, the Nation of Islam was able to build a following by appealing to the lack of identity common in slave descendants.
In Oakland, Yusuf Bey built a cult through a business called Your Black Muslim Bakery, beating and raping dozens of women he claimed were his wives and fathering more than forty children. Yet, Bey remained a prominent fixture in the community, and police looked the other way as his violent soldiers ruled the streets.
An enthralling narrative that combines a rich historical account with gritty urban reporting, Killing the Messenger is a mesmerizing story of how swindlers and con men abused the tragedy of racism and created a radical religion of bloodshed and fear that culminated in a journalist’s murder.
THOMAS PEELE is a digital investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group and the Chauncey Bailey Project. He is also a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism. His many honors include the Investigative Reporters and Editors Tom Renner Award for his reporting on organized crime, and the McGill Medal for Journalistic Courage. He lives in Northern California.
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Read information about the authorMy journalism career began at a weekly newspaper in Bridgehampton, New York in 1983, an endeavor so small, the printing press was powered by a Ford Pinto engine mounted on blocks. From that humble beginning, I’ve worked for seven daily newspapers, starting in Newsday’s sports department, and had scores of stories in others and in magazines and journals. Today, I’m an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group, publishers of The Contra Costa Times, The San Jose Mercury News, The Oakland Tribune and other papers surrounding San Francisco, where I specialize in data collection and analysis. I’m also a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism, co-teaching a class on public-records reporting. I’ve won more than 50 journalism awards, for long-term investigations of government corruption, the environment, casino gambling and murders to a story in the first person voice of a Christmas tree waiting to be bought on Christmas Eve. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Long Island University and a master’s in creative writing from the University of San Francisco.
I moved to Northern California in 2000 after six and a half years covering Atlantic City, N.J., for the Atlantic City Press. I’d also worked for The Ocean County Observer and, briefly, The Asbury Park Press in New Jersey, a state where I had started my post-Newsday career after deciding I didn’t want to write sports. I wanted to learn how to dig. (I also wanted to hang out with Bruce Springsteen). What better place, then, than the Garden State? My first assignment was covering a sleepy town, Manchester, home to tens of thousands of senior citizens clustered in retirement developments. As uneventful as the place seemed, it wasn’t. I soon found its government was deeply corrupt, the leaders siphoning away millions to spend on prostitutes and gambling in Atlantic City. (The Manchester scandal is recounted in my award winning essay, “Oligarchies I Have Known,” published in Controlled Burn.)
Manchester, as I wanted, taught me to dig, to use documents, to be relentlessly aggressive. Thirteen people were convicted of corruption and theft; most served prison time. A few years later, after brief stints in Delaware and upstate New York, I moved to Atlantic City. It was the time of the so-called “second wave” of casino development and of a deep social upheaval. In other words, it was a hell of a time to be a reporter in that gambling city, one where Donald Trump considered himself king. (Trump once began a phone interview with me by saying, “You fucking twerp…”) From my City Hall beat I wrote a seemingly endless run of surreal stories – from a city councilman who was an electrician who decided to steal electricity by secretly tapping power lines and burned his house down with bad wiring, to the endless get-rich-quick schemes of grifters and con men disguised as everything from radio talk-show hosts to school superintendents to casino executives.
In 2000, I joined the Contra Costa Times as an investigative reporter, writing about nursing home abuses, corruption, Indian gaming, anti-war protests, pollution and politics. I also carved out a niche reporting about freedom-of-information issues and pursuing lawsuits against governments blocking the public’s right to know. In 2005, we sued Oakland to force it to disclose the salaries of government workers. The California Supreme Court eventually ruled unanimously for disclosure; it’s been called the most significant open-government victory in the state in a generation.
My work life changed radically after the 2007 murder of a man I’d never met. Chauncey Bailey, the editor of a weekly newspaper in Oakland, was working on a small article about a business and supposed religious institution called Your Black Muslim Bakery and the cult behind it. “We gotta take him out before he write that story,” is how its leader ordered the assassinatio