I Can't Breathe

A Killing on Bay Street
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
Length: 12 hrs and 50 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (249 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A work of riveting literary journalism that explores the roots and repercussions of the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police—from the bestselling author of The Divide

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST

On July 17, 2014, a forty-three-year-old black man named Eric Garner died on a Staten Island sidewalk after a police officer put him in what has been described as an illegal chokehold during an arrest for selling bootleg cigarettes. The final moments of Garner’s life were captured on video and seen by millions. His agonized last words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rallying cry for the nascent Black Lives Matter protest movement. A grand jury ultimately declined to indict the officer who wrestled Garner to the pavement.

Matt Taibbi’s deeply reported retelling of these events liberates Eric Garner from the abstractions of newspaper accounts and lets us see the man in full—with all his flaws and contradictions intact. A husband and father with a complicated personal history, Garner was neither villain nor victim, but a fiercely proud individual determined to do the best he could for his family, bedeviled by bad luck, and ultimately subdued by forces beyond his control.

In America, no miscarriage of justice exists in isolation, of course, and in I Can’t Breathe, Taibbi also examines the conditions that made this tragedy possible. Featuring vivid vignettes of life on the street and inside our Kafkaesque court system, Taibbi’s kaleidoscopic account illuminates issues around policing, mass incarceration, the underground economy, and racial disparity in law enforcement. No one emerges unsullied, from the conservative district attorney who half-heartedly prosecutes the case to the progressive mayor caught between the demands of outraged activists and the foot-dragging of recalcitrant police officials.

A masterly narrative of urban America and a scathing indictment of the perverse incentives built into our penal system, I Can’t Breathe drills down into the particulars of one case to confront us with the human cost of our broken approach to dispensing criminal justice.

©2017 Matt Taibbi (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Dominic Hoffman's gravelly timbre and tough tone are an ideal fit for this outstanding piece of journalism. There is a lot of dialogue here - a testament to Taibbi's outstanding reporting - and Hoffman expertly characterizes New York and African-American speech without slipping into caricature. He also manages to capture Taibbi's dark and occasionally sarcastic humor when recounting the injustice of the Garner case and others like it." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about I Can't Breathe

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I had no idea!

This book provided perspective that helps me begin to get a glimpse - to understand that I had absolutely no clue about how ugly life can be. I thought this insidious evil was behind us. Time after time I couldn't believe what I was hearing and was brought to tears. The injustices that I've witnessed here-to-fore seem paltry compared to what my fellow Americans are subjected to.

I confess that I did not understand the black lives matter movement. I was one of those folks that said "all lives matter". My child is biracial and I've always considered myself colorblind. Instead I was blind to what men and women, mothers and fathers and families of color face. I'm sickened by this horror.

I wish I knew a way to let this man's daughter, Erica Garner know how incredibly impressed I am with her tenacity and courage. I never want sweetness my father be disrespected or treated poorly by anyone. My heart would be destroyed had this happen to my father.

To every man that is been humiliated my heart breaks for you and I'm ashamed.

12 people found this helpful

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Eric Garner the man brought to life

This book brings to life Eric Garner. Taibbi shows you Eric in his totality, good and bad, just like he would have wanted. His story is one of struggle and perseverance. He did his best to provide for his family and was murdered by a broken system. This book will make you cry and laugh. I'm left wondering what comes next for Erica,Orta, and America?

5 people found this helpful

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Mandatory reading

When it comes to the police killings that have fueled black lives matter and the backlash of blue lives matter/all lives matter, all too often the figures at the core of the story become merely victims, with certain of their actions seized upon and politicized by one side or the other. Taibbi does excellent, deep journalism on one man, Eric Garner, and the life that led him to his fateful encounter, and by treating this as an individual story, an actual life lived, it is impossible not to feel compassion.

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Why is this so strange to the white Americans?

hard to read knowing this is my black children's future but good to know about the future of where they live. it's like no matter what we try we are so oppressed and nobody cares I don't trust many this makes things black and white

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A VERY important book.

This book takes you right into the life of Eric Gardner and the people of Bay Street. You be the judge. This is Matt Taibbi's best book. It blew me away.

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Good read from past to current times

Good story and true to this day. Demands the readers full attention to get the oh so true meaning. Sad ending

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Excellent big picture

Great big picture of the broken criminal justice system, the society, the policies and the incentives. Great way to illustrate and connect the dots though history and with specific examples.

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terrific

powerful. uses the case to explore different aspects of racial policing and race. taibi writes with heart, soul and mind

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An unforgettable accounting of Eric Gardner’s murder

Good story and thorough and detailed accounting of Eric Gardner’s murder by New York Police. I was horrified to hear how the New York Police were allowed to murder and blatantly violate civil rights over and over again with impunity. I think everyone should read this as to think this kind of police abuse of the citizens wouldn’t happen to anyone of us is naive. Thanks to Matt Taibbi for writing this book, I only wish he would narrate his own books.

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Deeply Important

The touchingly human tragedy of the often villainized Garner that puts a face on the man whose only memory is a video of him being brutalized by police. It brings with it the context of New York politics, race relations, and the crushing bureaucracy used to oppress. Anyone of any political persuasion should read this and learn from it.