Through shattering storytelling, Geoffrey Canada recreates his childhood world, one in which the "sidewalk" boys learned the codes of the block from their elders and were ranked - and to some degree protected - through the rituals of fist, stick, and knife. He gives a cogent, chilling analysis of how, through an unforeseen chain of consequences set in motion in the 1960s by New York Governor Rockefeller's drug laws, everything changed on the streets. And there is a portrait of present reality - of drive-by shootings, of ever-younger, automatic weapon-toting drug runners, of gun manufacturers' cold-blooded marketing of guns to children - which follows logically from our nation's public stance on children and violence, and yet still, to this gifted writer and passionate child advocate, makes no sense at all. The author's vision for a changed future for these children, and so for our nation as a whole, is backed up by descriptions of Canada's acclaimed and innovative inner-city programs for children and their families - Peacemakers, Beacon Schools, and the Harlem Freedom Schools. His is a vision that includes governmental, community, and personal innovation and bravery and one that offers indelible stories of lives lost and of lives turned around.