A Tale of Murder, Suicide, Race, and Redemption
On Sale: August 18, 2015
Hardcover / e-Book
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In the grand reportorial tradition of J. Anthony Lukass's
Common Ground, SHOW ME A HERO is a tale of one city, divided
by fear and racism, murder and politics, and notions of home
When Nicholas Wasicsko was growing up, he knew he was going
to be mayor of Yonkers. The other kids teased him about his
dream, calling him "The Mayor" on the basketball court. But
on November 3, 1987, when he was only twenty-eight years
old, Nick did indeed become mayor - in fact, the country's
It turned out to be less than a dream job. The city had just
been slapped with a court order demanding that it build
public housing on the white, middle-class side of town in
order to right what the judge saw as intentional,
decades-long pattern of segregation. Shortly after taking
office, and after careful deliberation with the city's
lawyers, Nick agreed to comply with the court order. This
decision would lead to a virtual civic meltdown, and the
shattering of his own hopes and dreams.
SHOW ME A HERO is about the battle between the judge and
Nick's city, and also about what happens after - after the
lawyers have gone, the protesting has stopped, the
townhouses have been built, and the newcomers have moved in.
It's about Alma Febles, a magnetic young mother desperate to
move her three children into a real home. It's about the
nearly blind Norma O'Neal, who couldn't get home health care
in the projects. It's about Mary Dorman, an activist-first,
against housing; then, gradually, for it - for the first
time in her life. And it's about Nick Wasicsko and his wife,
Nay, trying to build a life amid the political rubble.
SHOW ME A HERO is riveting tale, made more urgent by the
fact that the hard lessons Nick had to learn are ones that
countless cities will face in the future. Across the
country, monolithic housing projects are being demolished
and replaced by scattered-site public housing built in
middle-class neighborhoods. One by one, these cities will
learn, as Yonkers did, as Nick did, what this means for a
nation whose people preach, diversity but who are most
comfortable when surrounded by others like themselves.
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