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Publisher's Summary

Featuring a new preface and afterword by the author.

From the host of MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, the riveting story of a 1975 police shooting of an unarmed black man in Boston - one of the first to draw national headlines - and the dramatic investigation and court case that followed.

On a rainy winter night, James Bowden Jr. left his mother’s house in Roxbury after a visit. As he guided his Buick out of his parking spot, an unmarked police car suddenly blocked his path. Two undercover officers sprang out, running toward his car. Shots were fired, and Bowden slumped over the wheel. Moments later, he was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. The police argued that they had fired in self-defense, claiming that Bowden was an armed robbery suspect and that after they had ordered him to stop, he had fired a shot at one of them. And multiple internal investigations by the Boston Police Department exonerated the officers involved. 

But Patricia Bowden, James’ widow, knew better. “The truth will come out,” she said at her husband’s funeral. She sought a lawyer willing to take on the Boston Police Department and finally found one in Lawrence F. O’Donnell, the author’s father, a man whose past, unbeknownst to Patricia Bowden, made him the only man in town who could not refuse her case. O’Donnell embarked on a highly contentious three-year battle with the Boston Police Department to win justice for James Bowden.

More timely now than ever, Deadly Force is a powerful indictment of police misconduct, a reminder of this issue’s long, tortured history and of how far we still have to go.

©1983 Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr. (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great tribute to his father

The story was interesting and Lawrence o’ Donnell is an excellent reader. He made the story come to life.

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An Eye Opener

I really enjoyed this book. The narration by the author was very good. It was extremely insightful into Boston Police Department procedures and how the police cover up their wrongdoings. The police created a mess of the whole Bowden situation and unfortunately the victim paid for it with his life.

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Better than fiction!

Great to have Lawrence reading this book. Just like today's news. You just keep listening and waiting for the truth and justice to arrive. Loved this book.

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I didnt know what to expect

this is a pretty insightful perspective into the racial conflict in the mid-70s in Boston really enjoyed that angle from the lawyer's perspective

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Wow. I couldn’t put this down awesome book

Reads
Like an amazing fiction thriller
this book is not to be missed

Very much enjoyed having it read by the author

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life lessons

I listen to the Lawrence O'Donnell show nightly. I am impressed with his show. this book taught me things about the city I was born in I never knew in detail. I grew up in the suburbs but had family who lived in Dorchester and I graduated from Catherine LaBoure at Carney hospital.
my parents raised 3 children without predudice so I believe I was lucky not to feel the bigotry others did. I lived through the race riots but was gifted, as was the oDonnell family with the ability to see both sides.
I remember working at the Robert Breck Brigham during the riots . we we're more concerned about the children of our Haitian CNA then the fact the police had to escort us out of Mission hill during them.
Thank you for the insight into what was going on around me.
Howerver let me add that when I walked from Newton, through Blue Hill Ave to go to work at Carney hospital during after the blizzard of 1978 every person I met along the way was kind and helpful. I then knew we all come together in situations the remind us we are all God's children.