"Dead Opposite: The Lives and Loss of Two American Boys...


March 12, 1995|By Erika Taylor | Erika Taylor,L. A. Times

"Dead Opposite: The Lives and Loss of Two American Boys," by Geoffrey Douglas. 207 pages. New York: Henry Holt. $22.50

It is difficult to be objective about a book when one has strong feelings regarding the subject matter. It's even more difficult when the book itself is like a single, incandescent note, the sound of which seems to "contain the heartbreak of the entire world." In his second book, "Dead Opposite," Geoffrey Douglas constructs a stunning documentary that goes beyond the story of two grieving families to examine the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, black and white.

Christian Prince, a Yale student from Chevy Chase, Md., had led a priviledged life. Then, in February 1991, Prince was shot to death. The boy accused of the murder, Duncan Fleming, was a poor, black 16-year-old. Douglas spent hours with the relatives of both boys, and the result is a book that is part journalism, part ethnography and part guy-next-door telling a tragic, scary story. "We have two societies not at war, not even just separate, but totally and increasingly estranged," Douglas writes in a final chapter. "Dead Opposite" is a brilliant book that should be read by anyone who has a stake in the world in which we live.

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