His Name Is George Floyd
Robert Samuels, Toluse Olorunnipa
*Finalist for the National Book Award for Non-fiction*
‘His Name Is George Floyd is essential for our times.’ Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist
‘An intimate, unvarnished and scrupulous account of his life…brilliantly revealing.’ NEW YORK TIMES
You know how he died. This is how he lived.
Who was George Floyd? What did he hope for? What was life like for him? And why has his death been the catalyst for such a powerful global response?
The murder of George Floyd sparked a summer of activism and unrest all over the world in 2020, from Shetland to Sao Paolo, as people marched under the Black Lives Matter banner, demanding an end to racial injustice. But behind a face that would be graffitied onto countless murals, and a name that has become synonymous with civil rights, there is the reality of one man’s stolen life.
In His Name is George Floyd we meet the kind young boy who talked his friends out of beating up a skinny kid from another neighbourhood and then befriended him on the walk home. Big Floyd the high school American football player who ignored his coach’s pleas to be more aggressive and felt queasy at the sight of blood. The man who fell victim to an opioid epidemic we are only just beginning to understand. The sensitive son and loving father, constantly in search of a better life in a society determined to write him off based on things he had no control over: where he grew up, the size of his body and the colour of his skin.
Drawing upon hundreds of interviews with friends and family members, His Name Is George Floyd reveals the myriad ways that structural racism shaped Floyd’s life and death – from his forebears’ roots in slavery to an underfunded education, the overpolicing of his community and the devastating snare of the prison system. By offering us an intimate portrait of this one, emblematic life, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa deliver a powerful and moving exploration of how a man who simply wanted to breathe ended up touching the world.
In painstaking detail and textured storytelling, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa reveal how George Floyd fought to live his entire life. Since we know George Floyd's death with tragic clarity, we must know Floyd's America - and life - with tragic clarity. His Name Is George Floyd is essential for our times. -- Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist This book is a wondrous feat of vivid writing and deep reporting, from the way it leads the reader through George Floyd's final fateful day on earth to its masterly account of Floyd's hopes and frustrations in the larger context of race in America. -- David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of Barack Obama: The Story In the years that have passed since his dying declaration - I can't breathe - we have come to know George Floyd as a symbol but have known little of George Floyd the man. In a monumental work of reporting and storytelling, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa reveal who George Floyd was in life, and the extent to which his death was the result not just of the callous choices of a single police officer but of four hundred years of societal decisions to devalue Black life. Amid a raging pandemic and urgent questions about our democracy, there has been little time to mourn George Floyd. The pages of this book provide us all with that that long-overdue opportunity. -- Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of They Can't Kill Us All: The Story of the Struggle for Black Lives His Name Is George Floyd is a sobering, deeply intimate account of George Floyd's life and all that he had to carry and contend with as a Black man coming of age in America. In a remarkable feat of reporting, Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa help us come to know Floyd as a full, rich, complicated human being, whose murder and whose journey in life forces us to reckon with the unquestionable truth that race still very much matters in this country. Thank you Samuels and Olorunnipa for taking us behind the headlines. -- Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America A much-needed portrait of the life, times, and martyrdom of George Floyd, a chronicle of the racial awakening sparked by his brutal and untimely death, and an essential work of history I hope everyone will read. -- Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song A vivid, necessary portrait of a Black man in America, in all its nuance, tragedy, and fullness. In his death, George Floyd's name became a rallying cry for the entire world. And this extraordinary book brings to life, with thoroughly reported detail, the indispensable context of systemic racism in which he lived. -- Abby Phillip, CNN anchor and senior political correspondent Impeccably researched . . . Interwoven with the biographical details are incisive sketches of the political and historical events that have shaped life for Floyd's family and other Black Americans. This multifaceted and exceptionally informative account is both a moving testament to Floyd and a devastating indictment of America's racial inequities. * Publishers Weekly, starred review * Writing with cogency and compassion, the authors free Floyd from the realm of iconography, restoring his humanity . . . A brilliant biography, history book, and searing indictment of this country's ongoing failure to eradicate systemic racism. * Kirkus Reviews, starred review * This gripping oral history offers a behind-the-scenes look at the man, his loved ones and community, and the aftermath of his horrific death . . . A wrenching chronicle of one of the most devastating events of our time . . . vital and illuminating. * Booklist, starred review *
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