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Book Review

Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence

In 1995, Beacon Press published Geoffrey Canada’s memoir, Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence, which explored the fear and aggression that Canada encountered growing up in the volatile neighborhoods of the South Bronx
during the 1950s and 60s. This new edition is Jamar Nicholas’s graphic adaptation, aimed at drawing in a new generation of readers.

Accessible to readers middlegrade to adult, this graphic memoir chronicles Canada’s experiences with everyday violence, and his struggle to survive and flourish
in a community where fighting, or refusing to fight, was a matter of life or death. For children living in urban communities today, the dangers are just as real, and Canada
has spent his career working to improve opportunities for young people in the inner city. His work at the Harlem Children’s Zone has been praised in high-profile media
and was featured in the film Waiting for Superman.

Like the memoir before it, this graphic adaptation is intended to help parents, educators, and readers to understand the cycle of fear and anger that perpetuates
urban violence. The book follows Canada from his first experience with neighborhood brawling at age four to his decision to give up his gun after going off to college. As
a child, Canada tried to shy away from confrontation, but he soon learned that not fighting was not an option.