Book Review: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, by Jeff Hobbs

This post originally ran in Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission.

Robert Peace was born in 1980 in a Newark, N.J., ghetto. His parents had high hopes for him, pushing him to receive the best education possible, though his father ultimately ended up in jail and his mother struggled to make ends meet. Still, their efforts paid off: despite growing up in a city riddled with drugs and gangs, Peace succeeded in high school and earned a place at Yale, where he graduated with distinction with degrees in molecular biochemistry and biophysics. At age 30, he was shot to death in a marijuana den in the basement of a Newark home. Jeff Hobbs (The Tourists), Peace's college roommate, asks the obvious questions in The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: How could this happen, and why?

Hobbs captures Peace's life with great detail, assembling observations and thoughts from those who knew the promising man before, during and after his Yale years, and makes it clear when assumptions have been made in place of records or hard facts. One part biography and one part study of poverty in the United States, Hobbs's account of his friend's life and death highlights how our pasts shape us, and how our eternal search for a place of safety and belonging can prove to be dangerous. Peace's life was indeed short and tragic, but Hobbs aims to guarantee that it will not go unmarked; this affecting story is a tribute to the many people that Peace touched while he lived, and a lens through which we can better understand poverty and opportunity after his death.


A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace | Jeff Hobbs | Scribner | September 2014 | Hardcover

1 comment

  1. This sounds like a really heartbreaking but powerful and important read.


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