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Children Under Fire: An American Crisis

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Based on the acclaimed series—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—an intimate account of the devastating effects of gun violence on our nation’s children, and a call to action for a new way forward In 2017, seven-year-old Ava in South Carolina wrote a letter to Tyshaun, an eight-year-old boy from Washington, DC. She asked him to be her pen pal; Ava thought they could help eac Based on the acclaimed series—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—an intimate account of the devastating effects of gun violence on our nation’s children, and a call to action for a new way forward In 2017, seven-year-old Ava in South Carolina wrote a letter to Tyshaun, an eight-year-old boy from Washington, DC. She asked him to be her pen pal; Ava thought they could help each other. The kids had a tragic connection—both were traumatized by gun violence. Ava’s best friend had been killed in a campus shooting at her elementary school, and Tyshaun’s father had been shot to death outside of the boy’s elementary school. Ava’s and Tyshaun’s stories are extraordinary, but not unique. In the past decade, 15,000 children have been killed from gunfire, though that number does not account for the kids who weren’t shot and aren’t considered victims but have nevertheless been irreparably harmed by gun violence. In Children Under Fire, John Woodrow Cox investigates the effectiveness of gun safety reforms as well as efforts to manage children’s trauma in the wake of neighborhood shootings and campus massacres, from Columbine to Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Through deep reporting, Cox addresses how we can effect change now, and help children like Ava and Tyshaun. He explores their stories and more, including a couple in South Carolina whose eleven-year-old son shot himself, a Republican politician fighting for gun safety laws, and the charlatans infiltrating the school safety business. In a moment when the country is desperate to better understand and address gun violence, Children Under Fire offers a way to do just that, weaving wrenching personal stories into a critical call for the United States to embrace practical reforms that would save thousands of young lives. 


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Based on the acclaimed series—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—an intimate account of the devastating effects of gun violence on our nation’s children, and a call to action for a new way forward In 2017, seven-year-old Ava in South Carolina wrote a letter to Tyshaun, an eight-year-old boy from Washington, DC. She asked him to be her pen pal; Ava thought they could help eac Based on the acclaimed series—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—an intimate account of the devastating effects of gun violence on our nation’s children, and a call to action for a new way forward In 2017, seven-year-old Ava in South Carolina wrote a letter to Tyshaun, an eight-year-old boy from Washington, DC. She asked him to be her pen pal; Ava thought they could help each other. The kids had a tragic connection—both were traumatized by gun violence. Ava’s best friend had been killed in a campus shooting at her elementary school, and Tyshaun’s father had been shot to death outside of the boy’s elementary school. Ava’s and Tyshaun’s stories are extraordinary, but not unique. In the past decade, 15,000 children have been killed from gunfire, though that number does not account for the kids who weren’t shot and aren’t considered victims but have nevertheless been irreparably harmed by gun violence. In Children Under Fire, John Woodrow Cox investigates the effectiveness of gun safety reforms as well as efforts to manage children’s trauma in the wake of neighborhood shootings and campus massacres, from Columbine to Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Through deep reporting, Cox addresses how we can effect change now, and help children like Ava and Tyshaun. He explores their stories and more, including a couple in South Carolina whose eleven-year-old son shot himself, a Republican politician fighting for gun safety laws, and the charlatans infiltrating the school safety business. In a moment when the country is desperate to better understand and address gun violence, Children Under Fire offers a way to do just that, weaving wrenching personal stories into a critical call for the United States to embrace practical reforms that would save thousands of young lives. 

57 review for Children Under Fire: An American Crisis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Klee

    I’ve known John Cox’s brilliance as a writer for nearly two decades. We graduated journalism school together. Nevertheless, I write this review neutrally and not based on any friendship I have with the author. John knocks it out of the park with this book. He makes well-reasoned arguments for gun control and gun sense in America. He does that through countless interviews and in-depth reporting. He does that through the eyes of children whose lives will never be the same because of gun violence. I’ve known John Cox’s brilliance as a writer for nearly two decades. We graduated journalism school together. Nevertheless, I write this review neutrally and not based on any friendship I have with the author. John knocks it out of the park with this book. He makes well-reasoned arguments for gun control and gun sense in America. He does that through countless interviews and in-depth reporting. He does that through the eyes of children whose lives will never be the same because of gun violence. I urge everyone to read this book and think about how we can do better for our children. I hope that this book will be profoundly influential in effectuating real change, and not just “thoughts and prayers.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Clear-eyed, compassionate, and devasting but not hopeless. Through detailed reporting, Cox chronicles the impact of gun violence on children, including those who witness or lose family or friends to it. And, importantly, he looks at straightforward, research-backed policy changes that can make a big difference: universal background checks, punishing adults whose improperly secured guns are used by children and/or in crimes, and increased federal funding for public health research into gun violen Clear-eyed, compassionate, and devasting but not hopeless. Through detailed reporting, Cox chronicles the impact of gun violence on children, including those who witness or lose family or friends to it. And, importantly, he looks at straightforward, research-backed policy changes that can make a big difference: universal background checks, punishing adults whose improperly secured guns are used by children and/or in crimes, and increased federal funding for public health research into gun violence.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Guy Guarino

    Should be a must read for all Americans.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ashleigh Welko

    Gunshot injuries are now the #2 cause of death for children and adolescents in the US, more than childhood cancer and second only to accidental deaths as the leading killer of kids in these age groups. This needs to be required reading for every parent, educator, pediatrician, and legislator in the US. Detailed statistics coupled with wrenching accounts of the myriad ways gunshots affect children every single day in this country.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Javaneh

    This is by far one of the most important books I have ever read. I grew up in post-Columbine Jefferson County Colorado. I lived down the street from the high school when violence erupted. I was 11 and witnessed my substitute be informed by her daughter that there was a shooting at her school and she had escaped early on. I grew up in the era of resource officers and thoughts and prayers. I never realized how school shootings were affecting me until I read this book. I now have a child who goes t This is by far one of the most important books I have ever read. I grew up in post-Columbine Jefferson County Colorado. I lived down the street from the high school when violence erupted. I was 11 and witnessed my substitute be informed by her daughter that there was a shooting at her school and she had escaped early on. I grew up in the era of resource officers and thoughts and prayers. I never realized how school shootings were affecting me until I read this book. I now have a child who goes to the elementary school across the street from Columbine. Every year there are police who patrol her school during the end of April. 22 years ago the world changed but gun violence continued with very little intervention. This book follows two children from two very different backgrounds as they navigate life following gun violence. Ava survived a school shooting that took her dearest friend and sent her into a mental frenzy she may never recover from. Tyshaun looked out to the street while at school to see sirens flashing nearby. Her thought to himself that he hoped his dad was okay but otherwise wasn’t phased by the flashing lights due in large part to the constant street violence in his DC neighborhood. He would later learn his dad was the cause of the flashing lights and he would never see his father alive again. These two children formed a friendship and bond over guns ruining their lives. Often times, books about hot topic issues can be heavy handed and scary to get a point across. This book does not do that. You see first hand accounts of how gun violence is shaping America. You see realistic statistics and facts surrounding gun violence and children and how having guns in a home can challenge your views on safety. I highly recommend this book for every American. Deaths from guns are destroying our youth and not just the ones who physically die from guns or are injured by guns but also the children surrounding their lost friends and family. Neither Tyshaun or Ava were directly impacted by a bullet but bullets may as well have torn through their lives as well. Only we can do something to change it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Clare Bird

    Hey Johnny Boy- I give you 5 out of 5 birds for Children Under Fire: An American Crisis. My mom recommended this to me after hearing about it on NPR. She knows I'm fascinated about school shootings and the effects it has on people. And as someone who has read almost every school shooting book out there, this is a must for EVERYONE. If you're a democrat, republican, religious, non-religious, gun-owner or not. READ IT. If you have children or grandchildren or any children in your lives read it. It Hey Johnny Boy- I give you 5 out of 5 birds for Children Under Fire: An American Crisis. My mom recommended this to me after hearing about it on NPR. She knows I'm fascinated about school shootings and the effects it has on people. And as someone who has read almost every school shooting book out there, this is a must for EVERYONE. If you're a democrat, republican, religious, non-religious, gun-owner or not. READ IT. If you have children or grandchildren or any children in your lives read it. It's a hard read, but we have to do hard things in our lives. This book explores the trauma of children who are either in the school or have a family member that has been killed by a gun. The stories of kids who were in another classroom and the PTSD they have were heartbreaking. My favorite part was the epilogue where he said everyone should read it. They aren't asking us to get rid of our guns. John talked about background checks, and gun safety, watching the warning signs in teens. If you're not checking your kids social media, you don't know what they are actually thinking. #truth. Anyways... Loved it! Please read it and do it with an open mind. I'm happy for you to have guns, but SOMETHING needs to be done to change the trajectory of our children's future.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    To someone immersed in the research on childhood trauma resulting from gun violence, there's little substance in this book that surprises. Its value is in the intimacy of the storytelling, as Cox -- a wonderfully fluid and empathetic writer -- wins a privileged spot in the lives of two young children whose lives have been scarred by street violence and a school shooting. Their stories are interspersed with others' whose experience and work colors in a picture of what trauma can do not only to th To someone immersed in the research on childhood trauma resulting from gun violence, there's little substance in this book that surprises. Its value is in the intimacy of the storytelling, as Cox -- a wonderfully fluid and empathetic writer -- wins a privileged spot in the lives of two young children whose lives have been scarred by street violence and a school shooting. Their stories are interspersed with others' whose experience and work colors in a picture of what trauma can do not only to the immediate victims, but to a wide circle of others, and what fixes might make a difference. We can say we understand the effects on children's lives, but Cox makes us experience what it really means.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Strabley

    This book is just a book that needs to be read. The journalistic integrity is profound. There is nothing good to be said about it, the author is a hero for putting this down on paper and telling the sad tragic story that has become a stain of shame and tragedy for this country. How can we let so many kids suffer like this?

  9. 5 out of 5

    vanessa

    4.5. Riveting, passionate, and insightful. I love the focus on children facing trauma as a result of gun violence happening to people close to them. A lot of the discussion about gun violence focuses on mass shootings & those murdered or maimed, so taking a look at young children who were not physically hurt but who face psychological peril as a result of gun violence was novel to me. The writing is clear-eyed but compassionate. I gained new understandings on an issue I read a lot about.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    This is a difficult and important read. The viral tweet may have piqued your attention. Push yourself to read

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kris Eggert

    When will enough be enough? With the continued school and neighborhood shootings, easy access to guns at home, etc and still nothing being done, the question still needs to be asked. John Cox details the need for common sense gun reform through research and extensive first hand experience with children traumatized by senseless killings. I highly recommend this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lorraine Benedict

    This book is a MUST read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    MacKenzie Blake

    Oof. Heavy, but a good read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    A contender for my favorite nonfiction of the year. Cox tackles America's gun violence problem from the perspective of the children it affects. I hadn't quite heard the debate framed in this way before, so this book provided a unique view on a well-documented subject. This is one of those rare books that has the power to change your mind. Cox does a great job of remaining fairly nonpartisan, and discussing how we can tackle these issues without making it about one side vs another, but rather, foc A contender for my favorite nonfiction of the year. Cox tackles America's gun violence problem from the perspective of the children it affects. I hadn't quite heard the debate framed in this way before, so this book provided a unique view on a well-documented subject. This is one of those rare books that has the power to change your mind. Cox does a great job of remaining fairly nonpartisan, and discussing how we can tackle these issues without making it about one side vs another, but rather, focusing on these children.

  15. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    This was harrowing to read, especially since I'm still reeling from a mass shooting in my own neighborhood last month, but I'm so glad this book exists. Cox dives deep into the toll that America's epidemic of gun violence has on children and how devastating and long-lasting the impacts of shootings can be even for kids who are not directly affected. Children Under Fire is deeply researched and provides evidenced-based solutions for how to turn the tide--if only we will listen. This was harrowing to read, especially since I'm still reeling from a mass shooting in my own neighborhood last month, but I'm so glad this book exists. Cox dives deep into the toll that America's epidemic of gun violence has on children and how devastating and long-lasting the impacts of shootings can be even for kids who are not directly affected. Children Under Fire is deeply researched and provides evidenced-based solutions for how to turn the tide--if only we will listen.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jed Sorokin-Altmann

    Devastating to read (there were certainly times I wished Cox was a less gifted writer), but also important. It certainly has me thinking more about the impact of gun violence beyond deaths and injuries--the mental scarring on children is equally important, and underserved in our current media and political narrative.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    A tough, but important read. We often read about victims of gun violence but the Woodrow Cox takes us through the trauma of those adjacent to the violence, which is a frighteningly large number of people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura Long

    Another necessary read for most everyone in America

  19. 4 out of 5

    Albert Willem Mordhort

    Great I won the giveaway, can't wait to start reading Great I won the giveaway, can't wait to start reading

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janet Harman

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cindywue

  25. 4 out of 5

    ALFRED ESPINOZA

  26. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy Faucher

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Webber

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

  31. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

  32. 5 out of 5

    Marisa

  33. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  34. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Pacelli

  35. 5 out of 5

    Kate Friedman

  36. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kavitakhara

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

  39. 5 out of 5

    Layne Weitzel

  40. 4 out of 5

    Gestu

  41. 4 out of 5

    Jen Turieo

  42. 4 out of 5

    Hari Brandl

  43. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  44. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

  45. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  46. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

  47. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  48. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Burns

  49. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  50. 4 out of 5

    Micielle

  51. 4 out of 5

    Tabatha

  52. 4 out of 5

    Jen Schlott

  53. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Maki

  54. 4 out of 5

    Kye Cantey

  55. 5 out of 5

    Dominique Gardela-Anstess

  56. 4 out of 5

    Angela DeSilva

  57. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

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