Tom MacWright

tom@macwright.org

Tom MacWright

I read Killing the Messenger by Thomas Peele on

Review

I stumbled onto this subject looking at books published about this area - about San Francisco and Oakland. Killing the Messenger is about the murder of an Oakland-based journalist by a Black Muslim cult supported by a bakery. I really enjoyed it. The ideological underpinnings of the faith, and its complicated - and often limited - relationship with Orthodox Islam make it an unusual subject for study.

The reporting is thorough, and I thought that the pacing was good. My only gripe with the writing itself is Peele’s constant and clumsy foreshadowing. Multiple chapters end with some variation of “he was safe: for now.” I also think there’s a slight shortcoming with context. The surrounding political environment and the community around the bakery is discussed early on, but after the scene is set, there isn’t much said about how the bakery affected its community and vice-versa, how public opinion shifted around it as the allegations continued.

But it’s a very worthy subject and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in small religious offshoots and in the area’s history.

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