Review: Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge book cover

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I have read this book, because of YouTuber and writer Jen Campbell recommended it. I admire her and trust her opinion, so I picked this up as part of my monthly non-fiction pick in January. I was not disappointed. This book deserves all the stars it can possibly get, and more. It is such an eye opener! A frighteningly real book, an account of ten child/teen deaths by gunfire on a randomly picked day in America.

From the back cover:

‘It was just another day in America. And as befits an unremarkable Saturday, ten children and teens were killed by gunfire. Far from being considered newsworthy, these everyday fatalities are simply a banal fact of death. They are the white noise set sufficiently low to allow the country to go about its business undisturbed.’

Title: Another Day in the Death of America

Author: Gary Younge

Publisher: Guardian Books

Year of publication: 2016

It is an easy read, not at all a style you would normally expect in a non-fiction book. You can pick this up randomly when you have up to an hour to spare and read one of the stories.

A great non fiction read!

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It is a book which will leave a mark. It made me sad and at the same time angry. Knowing that deaths like these could be prevented so easily makes me angry, and it makes me question some of the fundamental values of American society. I don’t understand how a society can fail to place human life as its number one priority. I don’t understand how big corporations and lobbyist can be so successful in forwarding their agenda at the expense of human life. Only because they have money.  As a European guns are foreign to me, something I mostly see in movies. Looking at the America described in this book, where guns are so accessible and used to kill, is absolutely terrifying. Looking at the America described here I keep thinking about the American dream I hear about and realise that it is a myth or a thing of the past.

Reading this book, I see a deeply segregated America, where the barriers between a good and a bad existence are as simple as the reputation of the street you live on. I see an America where you are doomed if you live on the bad side of the tracks. Where you can be gunned down simply by walking down the street and minding your own business. I see an America where children being shot is part of the daily routine, something so normal it is not even newsworthy. No one beyond the immediate family and community cares.

Reading this book you will see an America where you will meet twelve year old children who ‘worked all summer to buy his first gun – a single barrel shotgun for hunting pheasant’ (p. 127). You will meet parents afraid for their children’s lives all day, every day. ‘He knows there is no way in heck that he’s living in my house and is going to walk out the door after ten o’clock without me. I don’t even want to walk out of my door. Sometime I get off work late and I have to come down at eleven o’clock. I’m walking down the street like this’ – and he looks around himself warily – ‘because people will just drive up on you and shoot you for no reason. So you have to be mindful of every place and thing that you do.’ (p. 242)

Reading this book you will see an America where the National Rifle Association (NRA) defends the American population’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the Constitution which was adopted in 1791 (!!!). This states: ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ This means that the citizens needed their own weapons as they all served in the military as citizen soldiers throughout their entire adult life. They needed to have the weapons ready in case of war. This is not the case today. Countries have their own army which provides the soldiers with guns. There is no need for weapons in every household.

This is how the NRA argues its case: ‘We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and carjackers and knockout gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping-mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us. I ask you: Do you trust the government to protect you? We are on our own.’ (p.54) This is a world I read about in dystopian novels, in the world of fiction. This is an organisation that exaggerates and plays on our fears. They are desperate to survive and so they create these web of lies. They describe a world of hate in which guns are essential as everyone is our enemy. A world where the only good guy is you, and the only way to survive is by trusting no one except your gun. BULLSHIT!

Throughout this book you will see to which length the NRA will go to, in order to secure their survival. It makes me sick.

In America, every day, on average, 7 children and teens are killed by gun. Where these children live, what they do, and the colour of their skin is NOT important. They are children, and NO child should be shot dead.

Other works of Gary Younge:

  • The Speech: The Story Behind Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream
  • Who Are We – And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?
  • Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States
  • No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s Journey Through the American South

About the author:

Gary Younge is an author, broadcaster and editor-at-large for The Guardian, based in London. He also writes a monthly column, Beneath the Radar, for the Nation magazine and is the Alfred Knobler Fellow for The Nation Institute. (Source)

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