A gathering of heroes : reflections on rage and responsibility : a memoir of the Los Angeles riots /
Gregory Alan-Williams.
Chicago : Academy Chicago Publishers, 1994.
205 p. : ill.
0897334043 :
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Chicago : Academy Chicago Publishers, 1994.
0897334043 :
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1994-01-24:
Alan-Williams is an African American TV actor, who, at the height of the Los Angeles riots nearly two years ago, deliberately set out for the epicenter of the violence, determined to try to restrain his fellow blacks' anger and, if necessary, to save victims of it. As he did so, he was mindful of the many violences done to him as a young black man growing up in largely white Iowa--and of a time, in the Marine Corps, when he had willingly participated in the beating of a fellow recruit that led to the man's suicide attempt. At the heart of the book is a searing eyewitness account of the frightful brutality and lawlessness of that day in Los Angeles. Alan-Williams saved two people: a young light-skinned black whose attackers, whom Alan-Williams drove off, mistook for white, and a terribly injured Japanese man he rescued from his smashed car. Alan-Williams's description of the actions and emotions of the occasion is gripping; his analysis of his own motives and of the senseless brutality of the attackers lacks any trace of the maudlin or the vengeful. Alan-Williams thinks clearly, standing outside the vagaries of racial politics as a man of hard-won conscience--though he ruefully admits that his own anger and resentment sometimes betray him. His small but intense book is inspirational in the best sense of that much-abused word. Photos not seen by PW . (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, December 1993
Publishers Weekly, January 1994
Booklist, February 1994
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Unpaid Annotation
On April 29, 1992, actor Gregory Alan Williams walked into the intersection of Florence and Normandie avenues - in the heart of South Central Los Angeles - and into the midst of the worst riot in America's recent history. Summoning a courage born from the examples of his own personal heroes, Williams, an African American, rescued Japanese motorist Takao Hirata from an angry mob armed with bottles and metal rods. Through an endless shower of projectiles and verbal abuse, he managed to drag the nearly lifeless man to safety. In this account of that traumatic event and its complex, fascinating aftermath, Williams vividly captures the sights and sounds of that horrendous day, setting them against the background of his own life. He recalls his own experiences with racism and his own violent behavior when he was in the Marines. All of these experiences are grist for William's mill as he reflects on the meaning of rage, on the ambiguity of attitudes about race and, most importantly, on the obligation webear when confronted with the mindless face of violence. Thus, this thoughtful, articulate and touching memoir explores the larger implication of the LA Riots, from the cops' beating of Rodney King, the later beating of Reginald Denny and the subsequent trials of those involved.

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