1. Fist Stick Knife Gun

by Geoffrey Canada

This one shows up in the memoir/biography section but is really more of an argument about the culture of increasing violence in poor, urban American neighborhoods. And yet it's a memoir, a vivid account of a childhood surrounded by violence in the Bronx, a place where only those who can fight will survive. Christ, I don't know what it is but it's excellent. It's sort of a personal history of violence in America, if that makes sense.

Canada (the man, not the country) survived a dangerous youth and grew to become a teacher, principal and radical community organizer. This book leaps back and forth from his work with today's Bronx youth, many of whom have guns or can get them within the hour, and his own knife-populated youth. He has two basic premises: 1) violence is learned, not innate and threfore can be unlearned, and 2. guns have raised the stakes in poor urban neighborhoods. It is, as well, an indictment of the gun industry, which has deliberately targeted urban drug dealers and young people.

A great read. The man is inspiring, a warrior.