On the Run

On the Run

Fugitive Life in An American City

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Forty years in, the War on Drugs has done almost nothing to prevent drugs from being sold or used, but it has nonetheless created a little-known surveillance state in America's most disadvantaged neighborhoods. Arrest quotas and high-tech surveillance techniques criminalize entire blocks, and transform the very associations that should stabilize young lives--family, relationships, jobs--into liabilities, as the police use such relationships to track down suspects, demand information, and threaten consequences.

Alice Goffman spent six years living in one such neighborhood in Philadelphia, and her close observations and often harrowing stories reveal the pernicious effects of this pervasive policing. Goffman introduces us to an unforgettable cast of young African American men who are caught up in this web of warrants and surveillance--some of them small-time drug dealers, others just ordinary guys dealing with limited choices. All find the web of presumed criminality, built as it is on the very associations and friendships that make up a life, nearly impossible to escape. We watch as the pleasures of summer-evening stoop-sitting are shattered by the arrival of a carful of cops looking to serve a warrant; we watch--and can't help but be shocked--as teenagers teach their younger siblings and cousins how to run from the police (and, crucially, to keep away from friends and family so they can stay hidden); and we see, over and over, the relentless toll that the presumption of criminality takes on families--and futures.

While not denying the problems of the drug trade, and the violence that often accompanies it, through her gripping accounts of daily life in the forgotten neighborhoods of America's cities, Goffman makes it impossible for us to ignore the very real human costs of our failed response--the blighting of entire neighborhoods, and the needless sacrifice of whole generations.
Publisher: Chicago :, The University of Chicago Press,, [2014]
ISBN: 9780226136714
Branch Call Number: 364.3496073 GO
Characteristics: xiv, 277 pages ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 31, 2016

Very good book...a pleasure to read. If one wants to learn more about the effects of mass incarceration, this book is a must-read...

Aug 22, 2015

A review in The Chronicle of Higher Education (August 21, 2015) says there are "numerous and significant incongruities, contradictions, inaccuracies, and improbable incidents scattered throughout" the book, casting serious doubt on its accuracy and the author's honesty and conclusions.

Jul 16, 2015

Alice Goffman insertion into her own work is controversial.
Don't care. This work, while needing some tough editorial scissoring,is damn good.
Six years spent with inner city black youth is a tough task for a white woman..and she makes it clear it wasn't easy.
But her explanations and conclusions for black exclusion make sense..a must read for anyone seeking an understanding of America today.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top