The Riot Within by Rodney King

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As for the book itself, beyond its macro-relevance, I enjoyed the easy and honest read of how King, the man, came into infamy.
-Acting White, Acting Black


On a dark street, what began as a private moment between a citizen and the police became a national outrage.

Rodney Glen King grew up in the Altadena Pasadena section of Los Angeles with four siblings, a loving mother, and an alcoholic father. Soon young Rodney followed in Dad's stumbling steps, beginning a lifetime of alcohol abuse.

King had been drinking the night of March 3, 1991, when he engaged in a high-speed chase with the LAPD, who finally pulled him over. What happened next shocked the nation. A group of officers brutally beat King with their metal batons, Tasered and kicked him into submission—all caught on videotape by a nearby resident. The infamous Rodney King Incident was born when this first instance of citizen surveillance revealed a shocking moment of police brutality, a horrific scene that stunned and riveted the nation via the evening news. Racial tensions long smoldering in L.A. ignited into a firestorm thirteen months later when four white officers were acquitted by a mostly white jury. Los Angeles was engulfed in flames as people rioted in the streets. More than fifty people were dead, hundreds were hospitalized, and countless homes and businesses were destroyed.

King's plaintive question, "Can we all just get along?" became a sincere but haunting plea for reconciliation that reflected the heartbreak and despair caused by America's racial discord in the early 1990s.

While Rodney King is now an icon, he is by no means an angel. King has had run-ins with the law and continues a lifelong struggle with alcohol addiction. But King refuses to be bitter about the crippling emotional and physical damage that was inflicted upon him that night in 1991. While this nation has made strides during those twenty years to heal, so has Rodney King, and his inspiring story can teach us all lessons about forgiveness, redemption, and renewal, both as individuals and as a nation.


About Rodney King

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Rodney Glen King (born April 2, 1965 in Sacramento, California) is best known for his involvement in a police brutality case involving the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991. King has three children. He is engaged to marry Cynthia Kelley, who was a juror in the civil suit he brought against the City of Los Angeles.
Published May 29, 2012 by HarperOne. 277 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Riot Within
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

Publishers Weekly

Below average
May 28 2012

Though by no means groundbreaking, King's take on his own story is nevertheless an interesting read.

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Reel Swell

Reviewed by Julie on May 10 2012

THE RIOT WITHIN is filled with pictures of King, his family and friends.

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All That's Noir

Reviewed by JRS on Jun 19 2012

It is often said that great moments come from benign events slamming into ordinary people.

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Crazy Liberal & Conservative

May 16 2012

King’s journey wrestles with his life story, as well as the constant reminders that he is nothing more than a video clip.

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Muse's Sober Musings

May 01 2012

The Riot Within is a well-written, honest, and compelling story of one man's struggle with personal demons and his journey from the depths of hell to the heights of peace.

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Acting White, Acting Black

Reviewed by James Collier on Apr 24 2012

As for the book itself, beyond its macro-relevance, I enjoyed the easy and honest read of how King, the man, came into infamy.

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