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The Lost Sons of Omaha: Two Young Men in an American Tragedy

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From the award-winning journalist Bob Woodward calls "one of the truly great reporters working today," a searing, no-holds-barred account of two linked and tragic deaths stemming from the 2020 George Floyd protests that explores the complex political and racial mistrust and division of today's America.

"A monumental study of violence and grief...one of the most superb testaments about the confusion, despair, and--hopefully--humility that frames our century that one could ever hope to read." --Hilton Als

On May 30, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska, amid the protests that rocked our nation after George Floyd's death at the hands of police, thirty-eight-year-old white bar owner and Marine veteran Jake Gardner fatally shot James Scurlock, a twenty-two-year-old Black protestor and young father. What followed were two investigations of Scurlock's death, one conducted by the white district attorney Don Kleine, who concluded that Gardner had legally acted in self-defense and released him without a trial, and a second grand jury inquiry conducted by African American special prosecutor Fred Franklin that indicted Gardner for manslaughter and demanded he face trial. Days after the indictment, Gardner killed himself with a single bullet to the head.

The deaths of both Scurlock and Gardner gave rise to a toxic brew of misinformation, false claims, and competing political agendas. The two men, each with their own complicated backgrounds, were turned into grotesque caricatures. The twin tragedies amounted to an ugly and heartbreaking reflection of a painfully divided country. Here, Joe Sexton masterfully unpacks the whole twisting, nearly unbelievable chronicle into a meticulously reported and nuanced account of the two deaths, explaining which claims were true and which distorted or simply false. The Lost Sons of Omaha involves some of the most pressing issues facing America today, including our country's dire need for gun control and mental health reform; the dangerous spread of fake news, particularly on social media; and the urgent call to band together in the collective pursuit of truth, fairness, and healing.

"A bracing, rigorously reported story--told with grace and nuance--that takes readers deep into the fault lines of today's America." --Andrea Elliott, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Invisible Child

ISBN-13: 9781982198343

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Scribner Book Company

Publication Date: 05-09-2023

Pages: 384

Product Dimensions: 9.21h x 6.37w x 1.17d

Joe Sexton, as a senior editor and reporter at The New York Times and ProPublica, has directed six projects awarded Pulitzer Prizes, including the award for breaking news for his staff's coverage of Gov. Eliot Spitzer's downfall. He has shared in three Emmy Awards for documentary film, one of them for a harrowing look at the re-emergence of violent white supremacists in America. As a reporter, he covered sports, politics, and the country's criminal justice system. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. Sexton is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn and the father of four daughters.