Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review - "The Uncivil War" by Taleeb Starkes

In preparation and research for my upcoming book "The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty" I knew full well that even though I knew enough about economics, poverty, finance, and investing, I did not have the sociological, psychological, political or philosophical experiences of your average black man.  To that end I enlisted the help various Black Agents in the Field of the Capposphere, but also purchased a book that was recommended by an individual I can't remember, "The Uncivil War" written by Taleeb Starkes

I was looking forward to reading it because it had what seemed to be the combination of what I need.  A black author, who grew up in the ghetto, who saw the light, and could convey to me not just the black male perspective, but the path of his thinking that led him out of poverty.  This would then allow me to write some of the "transitional chapters" of my book from an educated standpoint, making a compelling argument that was relateable to my intended audience.

There was just one minor problem - it is the harshest thing I've ever read, making it overly harsh even for my extreme tastes.

The author makes no bones about it and purposely wrote it as such.  "Nigger" (and nearly a score of permutations of the word) is by FAR the most common word in the book (and even in the subtitle).  He mocks, berates, yells at, ridicules, and antagonize the segment of the black population he considers not blacks, but "niggers," and continues on for another 240 screeding and screaming pages.  There were certainly segments and sections that were helpful for my purposes, but it quickly became obvious he doesn't care to solve the problems through an olive branch, but by identifying, villainizing and shaming the "nigger" subsegment of the black community out of existence.  In other words, it is a damning testament and outright attack against ghetto or thug culture, indifferent if they actually listen, turn themselves around, or improve (he even has a letter at the end of the book dedicated as a "Memorandum to Niggers" where he explicitly says so).

While this may not have terribly helped in my research, it did provide some interesting ancillary benefits.  One, you really do realize just what a show or a farce the ghetto/thug culture is.  From believing your "independent" while collecting government checks, to buying designer clothes with money you don't have, to spending a prerequisite time in jail to earn "street cred" and "keep it real," it isn't anything to be glorified or envied.  It's just a parasitic culture living off of the rest of the community.  And the great lengths these delusional people go to convince themselves would be funny, if it were not so pathetic.  Two, you realize the helplessness of it all.  People are consciously choosing this life and not only choosing it, but protecting it even if it hurts them.  Mr. Starkes cites multiple news articles in his book where a shooting, a beating, or some other such crime SPECIFICALLY WITHIN AND AGAINST the black community occurs, but "magically" there are no witnesses.  Alas just as there are no "public witnesses" that corroborated the officer's account of the Marcus Brown killing, and thus many good people get to fear lawlessness living in the likes of Ferguson.  But, three, even though many aspects of the book were depressing, hearteningly, there were some optimistic insights into the book.  For example there IS definitely a group of people (simply referred to as "blacks" by Mr. Starkes) who are law abiding citizens.  They want a better life, they do not hate whites or males, they are willing to work, and they LOATHE the costs they pay in terms of "black on black crime" or the "The Black Tax."  Another example is how despite all their bravado and puffing of chests, thugs are indeed afraid of well armed, law abiding citizens in safe neighborhoods simply because such citizens WILL call the cops and WILL defend their territory.  And yet another example was how thug culture is not "misunderstood" or "disadvantaged", but is indeed evil, deserving of hate, giving rise to the hope the rest of society might shame it like we do cancer or any other scourge of society.  It was insights like these that made the book worth reading.

Still, these observations and insights aside, the book falls short if there was any underlying attempt to win over blacks who are sitting on the fence, and will certainly win no converts from Starkes' "nigger" category.  It will simply enrage them.  But, again, Starkes writing indicates he'd rather exterminate the thug culture than convert it and that's where his and my aims differ.  Perhaps "The Black Man's Guide Out of Poverty" may win a few more converts than his book...perhaps even some converts that are merely younger versions of him.  For Mr. Starkes admits that he too was once part of that ghetto culture.

You can find his book here at Amazon.


Anonymous said...

...and will certainly win no converts from Starkes' "nigger" category. It will simply enrage them.

It might. If they were the sort of people who read books. They might be enraged if a black studies prof reads a synopsys of it, tells her class about it, and a student of that class tweets about it. But by then it won't have much relationship to what was actually written.

Martel said...

I repeat my recommendation of "Off the Books" by Venkatesh. He doesn't describe what should be in the innner city, just what is.

Because I've read it I can successfully communicate free market principles to blacks without getting called ugly names. Parts of it are dry, but it's nonetheless quite insightful.

Glen Filthie said...


Aaron, the kind of people that could benefit from your book are the ones that can't read - and even if they could all you would be to them is another sanctimonious cracker. They are so hopeless they are now throwing out frivolous accusations of rape out at Bill Cosby for daring to tell them to 'speak English and pull their pants up'.

You obviously don't understand these people and even if you did the way out of poverty is the same for blacks as it is for whites or anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Chris Rock tells it like it is -

I think you'll appreciate the joke about books at 3:30, Cap... ;-)

sth_txs said...

I love books like this from actual black people. To be blunt, I don't have any compassion for the thug/poverty class of blacks. After I read 'Gang Leader for a Day', it was clear to me that they create most of their own damn problems and no amount of money or freebies is going to fix their lives. But that is also typical of poor white and hispanics as well.

It looks like he just confirmed what Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have been saying for years.

I do feel sorry for the blacks that feel like they have to do more to prove themselves because of some bad actors. But I'm also tired of hearing how it YT's fault all the time.

beta_plus said...

He did an interview w/Adam Carolla that it well worth listening to:

He seemed calmer on the show than what is in his book.

Bobby English said...

Last Modified: May 6, 2012
Imagine Soldier Field beyond capacity, brimming with 63,879 young African-American men, ages 18 to 24 — more than U.S. losses in the entire Vietnam conflict.
Imagine the University of Michigan's football stadium — the largest in the U.S. — filled to its limit of 109,901 with black men, age 25 and older. Now add 28,223 more — together totaling more than U.S. deaths in World War I.
Picture two UIC Pavilions packed with 12,658 Trayvon Martins — black boys, ages 14 to 17 — nearly twice the number of U.S. lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now picture all of them dead. The national tally of black males 14 and older murdered in America from 1976 through 2005, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics: 214,661.
The numbers tell only part of the story of this largely urban war, where the victims bear an uncanny resemblance to their killers. A war of brother against brother, filled with wanton and automatic gunfire, even in the light of day, on neighborhood streets, where little boys make mud pies, schoolgirls jump rope, where the innocent are caught in the crossfire, where the spirit of murder blows like the wind.
It is, so far, a ceaseless war in which guns are often the weapon of choice, and the finger on the trigger of the gun pointed at a black male is most often another black male's.
The numbers alone are enough to make me cry — to wonder why — we as African Americans will march en masse over one slain by someone who is not black, and yet sit silent over the hundreds of thousands of us obliterated from this mortal world by someone black like us, like me. It is a numbing truth borne out by hard facts:
From 1980 through 2008, 93 percent of black victims were killed by blacks.
Translation: For every Trayvon Martin killed by someone not black, nine other blacks were murdered by someone black.
In 2005, — blacks — accounted for 13 percent of the U.S. population but 49 percent of all homicides. The numbers are staggering, the loss incomprehensible.
Add to the tally of black males 14 and older slain across the country from 1976 to 2005, another 29,335 (slain from 2006 to 2010), and their national body count rises to 243,996, representing 82 percent of all black homicides for that 35-year period. What also becomes clear is this: We too often have raised killers. And this war is claiming our sons.
But that's still not the end of the story. Add to that number 51,892 black females ages 14 and older, plus five whose gender was not identifiable, and the total, not counting children, is 295,893 — more than the combined U.S. losses of World War I, the Vietnam, Korean and Mexican-American wars, the War of 1812 and the American Revolutionary War.
Is the blood of these sons and daughters somehow less American?
Two hundred ninety-five thousand eight hundred ninety-three . . .
Imagine the United Center, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field and Soldier Field nearly all filled simultaneously with black boys, girls, men and women. Now imagine that twice over. Now imagine them all dead.
As far as I can see, that's at least 295,893 reasons to cry. And it is cause enough for reticent churches, for communities, for lackadaisical leaders, for all people — no matter our race, color or creed — to find the collective will and the moral resolve to stamp out this human rights atrocity occurring right under our noses.
Just imagine the human carnage and the toll to us all if we don't.

I can't. I won't.