The Year of Dangerous Days Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980 by Nicholas Griffin
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The Year of Dangerous Days Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980 by Nicholas Griffin

Deeply researched and covering many timely issues including police brutality, immigration, and the drug crisis, The Year of Dangerous Days is both a clarion call and a re-creation story of one of America’s most iconic cities.

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In the tradition of The Wire, the harrowing story of the cinematic transformation of Miami, one of America’s most bustling cities—rife with a drug epidemic, a burgeoning refugee crisis, and police brutality—from journalist and award-winning author Nicholas Griffin

Miami, Florida, famed for its blue skies and sandy beaches, is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, with nearly twenty-three million tourists visiting annually. But few people have any idea how this unofficial capital of Latin America came to be.

The Year of Dangerous Days is a fascinating chronicle of a pivotal but forgotten year in American history. With a cast that includes iconic characters such as Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, and Janet Reno, this slice of history is brought to life through intertwining personal stories. At the core, there’s Edna Buchanan, a reporter for the Miami Herald who breaks the story on the wrongful murder of a black man and the shocking police cover-up; Captain Marshall Frank, the hardboiled homicide detective tasked with investigating the murder; and Mayor Maurice Ferré, the charismatic politician who watches the case, and the city, fall apart.

On a roller coaster of national politics and international diplomacy, these three figures cross paths as their city explodes in one of the worst race riots in American history as more than 120,000 Cuban refugees land south of Miami, and as drug cartels flood the city with cocaine and infiltrate all levels of law enforcement. In a battle of wills, Buchanan has to keep up with the 150 percent murder rate increase; Captain Frank has to scrub and rebuild his homicide bureau; and Mayor Ferré must find a way to reconstruct his smoldering city. Against all odds, they persevere, and a stronger, more vibrant Miami begins to emerge. But the foundation of this new Miami—partially built on corruption and drug money—will have severe ramifications for the rest of the country.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Miami 1980 by Nicholas Griffin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Interesting, insightful, I learned so much. I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Pete Simonelli who was pleasant to listen to. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone.

I came into it having visited Miami just a handful of times, wondering about how much Miami has changed over the years, the cultural exchange and influence, crime data analysis, and wondering what ever happened to that little boy named Elián who come into country floating on a raft, remembering the news reels, the wet feet, dry feet policy and the controversy over that, events leading up to how it all came to be.

The Story
I feel like it presented a fair assessment. Everything from culture of law enforcement, criminal conviction. Drug trade. Crisis and money exchange. Permissive and restrictive regulations. Drug enforcement tactic. Justice system. All coming down to questions about violent minorities representing immigrants, Cubans seeking asylum, language integration and language exclusion, cuisine variation, and how it all came to be, Miami, deemed as an unofficial capital of Latin America.

The Writing
It was easy to get into. I enjoyed the organization, the timeline both chronological, but also a re-examination of events with new information and context as they were seen and now.

A complex and fascinating history.

View all my reviews

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