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The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts : Murder and Memory in an American City
by Laura Tillman


Overview - In Cold Blood meets Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family A harrowing, profoundly personal investigation of the causes, effects, and communal toll of a deeply troubling crime--the brutal murder of three young children by their parents in the border city of Brownsville, Texas.  Read more...

 
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More About The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts by Laura Tillman
 
 
 
Overview
In Cold Blood meets Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family A harrowing, profoundly personal investigation of the causes, effects, and communal toll of a deeply troubling crime--the brutal murder of three young children by their parents in the border city of Brownsville, Texas.
On March 11, 2003, in Brownsville, Texas--one of America's poorest cities--John Allen Rubio and Angela Camacho murdered their three young children. The apartment building in which the brutal crimes took place was already rundown, and in their aftermath a consensus developed in the community that it should be destroyed. It was a place, neighbors felt, that was plagued by spiritual cancer.
In 2008, journalist Laura Tillman covered the story for The Brownsville Herald. The questions it raised haunted her, particularly one asked by the sole member of the city's Heritage Council to oppose demolition: is there any such thing as an evil building? Her investigation took her far beyond that question, revealing the nature of the toll that the crime exacted on a city already wracked with poverty. It sprawled into a six-year inquiry into the larger significance of such acts, ones so difficult to imagine or explain that their perpetrators are often dismissed as monsters alien to humanity.
With meticulous attention and stunning compassion, Tillman surveyed those surrounding the crimes, speaking with the lawyers who tried the case, the family's neighbors and relatives and teachers, even one of the murderers: John Allen Rubio himself, whom she corresponded with for years and ultimately met in person. The result is a brilliant exploration of some of our age's most important social issues, from poverty to mental illness to the death penalty, and a beautiful, profound meditation on the truly human forces that drive them. It is disturbing, insightful, and mesmerizing in equal measure.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781501104251
  • ISBN-10: 150110425X
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company
  • Publish Date: April 2016
  • Page Count: 256


Related Categories

Books > Social Science > Violence in Society
Books > Social Science > Sociology - Urban
Books > True Crime > Murder - General

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-02-22
  • Reviewer: Staff

When Tillman moved to Brownsville, Tex., in 2008 for a job at a local newspaper, she was assigned to write a story about the local debate over whether to demolish an apartment building where, in 2003, John Allen Rubio and Angela Camacho murdered and decapitated their three small children. Tillman becomes increasingly interested in the crime and how the proposed destruction of the building was the catalyst for the community to wrestle with it. In order to fully understand the family involved in the crime, she traces their place in their south Texas community and explores the violent history of the region. Did Rubio, who orchestrated the murders, truly believe his children were possessed by demons? Why did Camacho go along with it? Tillman's persistent, gritty journalism reveals that the case is more complicated and nuanced than the headlines would indicate. But still another question persists: how does a community cope with the long lasting effects of such a revolting crime? This thought-provoking portrait of a murder implicates the community at large and forces the reader to grapple with the death penalty, which Rubio is sentenced to. Tillman's book exemplifies provocative long-form journalism that does not settle for easy answers. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency.

 
BAM Customer Reviews