While the City Slept is a true crime account of a rape and murder that occurred in Seattle in 2009. Unlike many crime reports, Eli Sanders's work is never lurid, never sensational. Instead, his focus is on physical and social environments that formed the victim, perpetrator, and survivor. Particular focus is given to the many times that the state failed to intervene in the life of a young man in crisis. Sanders highlights for the reader the extremes of human nature, but doesn't force any conclusions. This is a work of deep empathy. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Binged Making a Murderer? Try... [this] riveting portrait of a tragic, preventable crime." Entertainment Weekly
A Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter’s gripping account of one young man’s path to murder — and a wake-up call for mental health care in America
On a summer night in 2009, three lives intersected in one American neighborhood. Two people newly in love — Teresa Butz and Jennifer Hopper, who spent many years trying to find themselves and who eventually found each other — and a young man on a dangerous psychological descent: Isaiah Kalebu, age twenty-three, the son of a distant, authoritarian father and a mother with a family history of mental illness. All three paths forever altered by a violent crime, all three stories a wake-up call to the system that failed to see the signs.
In this riveting, probing, compassionate account of a murder in Seattle, Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the crime, offers a deeply reported portrait in microcosm of the state of mental health care in this country — as well as an inspiring story of love and forgiveness. Culminating in Kalebu’s dangerous slide toward violence — observed by family members, police, mental health workers, lawyers, and judges, but stopped by no one — While the City Slept is the story of a crime of opportunity and of the string of missed opportunities that made it possible. It shows what can happen when a disturbed member of society repeatedly falls through the cracks, and in the tradition of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, is an indelible, human-level story, brilliantly told, with the potential to inspire social change.
"The author’s opening pages are among the most immediate and breathtaking in modern true-crime literature, as evocative as any moment of In Cold Blood or Helter Skelter." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Inspiring.... From a harrowing crime, it draws powerful lessons for our mental health and criminal justice systems that can’t be ignored." Sister Helen Prejean, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Man Walking
"A heartbreaking — and compelling — story from every angle... Americans have long been fascinated by true-crime stories, from Truman Capote’s 1966 masterpiece, In Cold Blood, through this year’s binge-worthy TV series Making a Murderer. The bad guy is always mesmerizing. What makes a person go to that dark side? Sanders works hard to provide the answers.... [He] does a terrific job of telling the life stories of all three principal characters." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Expertly crafted... [Sanders’] evenhanded reporting and emotional commitment to the story make for gripping reading." The Washington Post
About the Author
Eli Sanders is the associate editor of Seattle’s weekly newspaper The Stranger. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2012 for his reporting on the murder of Teresa Butz. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Seattle Times, The American Prospect, and Salon, among other publications. Sanders lives in Seattle.