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Standoff: Race, Policing, and a Deadly Assault That Gripped a Nation

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Standoff is award-winning journalist Jamie Thompson's gripping account of a deadly night in Dallas, told through the eyes of those at the center of the events, who offer a nuanced look at race and policing in America. On the evening of July 7, 2016, protesters gathered in cities across the nation after police shot two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. As offic Standoff is award-winning journalist Jamie Thompson's gripping account of a deadly night in Dallas, told through the eyes of those at the center of the events, who offer a nuanced look at race and policing in America. On the evening of July 7, 2016, protesters gathered in cities across the nation after police shot two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. As officers patrolled a march in Dallas, a young man stepped out of an SUV wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a high-powered rifle. He killed five officers and wounded eleven others. It fell to a small group of cops to corner the shooter inside a community college, where a fierce gun battle was followed by a stalemate. Crisis negotiator Larry Gordon, a 21-year department veteran, spent hours bonding with the gunman—over childhood ghosts and death and shared experiences of racial injustice in America—while his colleagues devised an unprecedented plan to bring the night to its dramatic end. Thompson’s minute-by-minute account includes intimate portrayals of the negotiator, a surgeon who operated on the fallen officers, a mother of four shot down in the street, and the SWAT officers tasked with stopping the gunman. This is a deeply affecting story of real people navigating a terrifying crisis and a city's attempts to heal its divisions.


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Standoff is award-winning journalist Jamie Thompson's gripping account of a deadly night in Dallas, told through the eyes of those at the center of the events, who offer a nuanced look at race and policing in America. On the evening of July 7, 2016, protesters gathered in cities across the nation after police shot two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. As offic Standoff is award-winning journalist Jamie Thompson's gripping account of a deadly night in Dallas, told through the eyes of those at the center of the events, who offer a nuanced look at race and policing in America. On the evening of July 7, 2016, protesters gathered in cities across the nation after police shot two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. As officers patrolled a march in Dallas, a young man stepped out of an SUV wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a high-powered rifle. He killed five officers and wounded eleven others. It fell to a small group of cops to corner the shooter inside a community college, where a fierce gun battle was followed by a stalemate. Crisis negotiator Larry Gordon, a 21-year department veteran, spent hours bonding with the gunman—over childhood ghosts and death and shared experiences of racial injustice in America—while his colleagues devised an unprecedented plan to bring the night to its dramatic end. Thompson’s minute-by-minute account includes intimate portrayals of the negotiator, a surgeon who operated on the fallen officers, a mother of four shot down in the street, and the SWAT officers tasked with stopping the gunman. This is a deeply affecting story of real people navigating a terrifying crisis and a city's attempts to heal its divisions.

30 review for Standoff: Race, Policing, and a Deadly Assault That Gripped a Nation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Solid, Compelling, Yet Blatantly Biased In Favor Of Cops. Four years ago nearly to the day when I read this book on July 11, 2020, Dallas cops used a brick of C4 to murder a suspect in a college building, rather than arresting him and bringing him to trial. This book is a detailed telling of the events of that night, taken from multiple interviews and videos with many of the very people in question. It doesn't really delve into race or policing generally so much as the thoughts and histories of Solid, Compelling, Yet Blatantly Biased In Favor Of Cops. Four years ago nearly to the day when I read this book on July 11, 2020, Dallas cops used a brick of C4 to murder a suspect in a college building, rather than arresting him and bringing him to trial. This book is a detailed telling of the events of that night, taken from multiple interviews and videos with many of the very people in question. It doesn't really delve into race or policing generally so much as the thoughts and histories of those involved, and not one person involved comes out looking like so much as a good person. Even with the narrative blatantly biased to put them in as favorable a light as possible. A compelling read that very much puts the reader in the night in question and in the heads of the cops in question, and this fact alone is the reason it rates so high. A great primer on exactly what cops think of the rest of us in modern America, and thus very much recommended. A final note: While I absolutely recommend reading this book, I recommend getting it from a library or waiting until it hits the used market because the cops in question stand to benefit financially from its sale. This is a novel recommendation from me, but warranted in this case as these people should *not* stand to make money from murdering someone.

  2. 4 out of 5

    vanessa

    This was an engrossing, fast-paced retelling of the ambush against Dallas police officers in July 2016. Thompson's writing is suspenseful; she traces the histories of the people that were on the ground that day while also detailing their decision-making. This is an account more from the perspectives of Dallas police, its chief, the mayor. It makes some points about BLM and about police shootings against Black people. It's clear that these police officers have opinions about bias in policing base This was an engrossing, fast-paced retelling of the ambush against Dallas police officers in July 2016. Thompson's writing is suspenseful; she traces the histories of the people that were on the ground that day while also detailing their decision-making. This is an account more from the perspectives of Dallas police, its chief, the mayor. It makes some points about BLM and about police shootings against Black people. It's clear that these police officers have opinions about bias in policing based on their lived experiences... many opinions I disagree with or don't think are helpful in building community trust. Some comments these officers make are the embodiment of toxic masculinity, it's this idea that using force > anything else. However, I'm not a cop and have not seen the things they've seen. I guess it was just interesting to listen to their honest opinions. The most conflicting and riveting person here is the negotiator, Larry Gordon, who is a black officer in Dallas's SWAT force.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Thanks to Netgalley and Henry Holt for providing this ARC. This is a very good telling of the Dallas police shootings that occurred in 2016. Although I was familiar with the event, this book provided lots of details I did not know. This book is mainly told from the view of the police officers involved and does a good job of explaining their thoughts during the crisis as well as their backgrounds. What I didn’t like about the book was that it left me feeling educated, but dejected about the divid Thanks to Netgalley and Henry Holt for providing this ARC. This is a very good telling of the Dallas police shootings that occurred in 2016. Although I was familiar with the event, this book provided lots of details I did not know. This book is mainly told from the view of the police officers involved and does a good job of explaining their thoughts during the crisis as well as their backgrounds. What I didn’t like about the book was that it left me feeling educated, but dejected about the divide in our country between factions supporting anti racism initiatives and police support initiatives. It didn’t seem like anyone in the book was likely to change their attitudes and I feel like in 2020, that is eden more true given our polarized state. I don’t fault the author for any of this, she is reporting a factual story.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Austin Scott

    Great story-telling from beginning to end. I had to put this book down multiple times because my adrenaline was pumping and I could hear my heart beating. Also I appreciate that I didn’t feel like I was trying to be swayed to hold to a certain political belief or to jump on the BLM movement. The journalist truly did a great job presenting multiple perspectives and ideologies in regards to a cultural/societal issue in America throughout our history.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anita Fajita Pita

    Set to publish Sept 8, 2020 A quality piece of reporting. Jamie Thompson (the lady journalist who wrote on this shooting for Dallas papers, not the male military memoirist this name is also attached to on Goodreads) manages to bring a lot of conflict to the table and offer it in an unbiased way. The cops, SWAT, and DART officers all speak for themselves. Even the shooter's voice is in his own words. The story speaks for itself, and Jamie Thompson did an outstanding job of chasing it down. (view s Set to publish Sept 8, 2020 A quality piece of reporting. Jamie Thompson (the lady journalist who wrote on this shooting for Dallas papers, not the male military memoirist this name is also attached to on Goodreads) manages to bring a lot of conflict to the table and offer it in an unbiased way. The cops, SWAT, and DART officers all speak for themselves. Even the shooter's voice is in his own words. The story speaks for itself, and Jamie Thompson did an outstanding job of chasing it down. (view spoiler)[ With an abundant number of firsthand accounts, some short and single-chaptered while others carry throughout the entire event, Thompson manages to frame the social commentary of The Standoff within the backstory of these officers. Their previous experiences in life, in the military, and in the police department have been steeped in racial politics and so the story builds this history upon the officers of the city itself - there's even a little Kennedy discussion in here - up through specific incidents and the Black Lives Matter movement. All leading up to Dallas on July 7, 2016 when Micah Xavier Johnson decided this was where he would start his revolution. The negotiator, Larry Gordon, is a member of SWAT. He's also toeing the line between black and blue. At work, he defended black people's gripes with law enforcement, explaining how he even still got pulled over while off duty. To relatives and friends, Gordon was always defending cops, trying to explain the use of force and the dangers of the job. He was too black to be blue, and too blue to be black. Another great viewpoint comes from the trauma surgeon, Dr. Williams, who spends a lot of time after this shooting to advocate for better relations between police and community. As a black surgeon, he also experiences racial politics in his life and workplace. He has a ritual once he gets in his car to place his badge around his neck - whether he's going to work or not - to clearly identify him as a doctor in case he gets pulled over. He has his veteran's status on his driver's license and his Air Force Academy plates as "talismans" to protect him in case he gets pulled over. Even he, a surgeon at one of the country's busiest trauma centers, could on any road, outside any home, be reduced to a "black man acting suspiciously." A menace. A threat. Another standout member of SWAT was Banes. I had a hard time grasping why Banes read like a main character when he was not as enveloped in the narrative as Gordon, but I think it's because he offers a reasonable look at the blue side of the thin blue line. He acknowledges the alpha pack, testosterone fueled, misogynistic necessity of police, military, and especially SWAT. The cop would watch the SWAT guys roll up in their armored personnel carriers, hanging off the sides with their M4's, muscles flexing beneath their heavy entry vests, hair perfectly fixed as if they'd taken an extra moment with the blow-dryer before heading out to save the world. They'd ride past that cop and silently communicate that they were tougher, quicker, better. It doesn't prevent him from succumbing to it, but at least he acknowledges it. He yearned for it until he made it. Through him we get to meet many tougher tougher SWAT guys. Burlier, older, more experienced and testosteroney. (hide spoiler)] I would definitely recommend this to any fans of military or police non-fiction, maybe similar to Black Hawk Down, those interested in the topics of police relations in America, racial policing, SWAT, guns, explosives, with minor social politicking, and hints of a subliminal PTSD study. Thank you to the publisher, Henry Holt and Co., for providing me with an early e-copy via Netgalley.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melissa McGuire

    Non-fiction that reads like fiction because of the compelling and suspenseful story and empathetic characters. You’ll race through it, but it sticks with you. It makes you think. Although Thompson has clearly done a mountain of research and interviewing, this gifted writer never lets the pace get bogged down as she tells the story and context of events in Dallas, July 7th, 2016. Thank you Jamie Thompson for a great book. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Scott Bell

    When I see a book by a Washington Post reporter recounting a racially charged incident involving the police, I expect a certain bias to creep into the narrative. I'm glad when I'm wrong. In the case of STANDOFF, Ms. Thompson does an outstanding job presenting every viewpoint as clearly and dispassionately as is humanly possible. The book dives deep into the psyche of the responding officers, their sense of loss, their desperate attempts to save lives and protect the public despite an often hosti When I see a book by a Washington Post reporter recounting a racially charged incident involving the police, I expect a certain bias to creep into the narrative. I'm glad when I'm wrong. In the case of STANDOFF, Ms. Thompson does an outstanding job presenting every viewpoint as clearly and dispassionately as is humanly possible. The book dives deep into the psyche of the responding officers, their sense of loss, their desperate attempts to save lives and protect the public despite an often hostile and unappreciative citizenry. On the other hand, the book minces no words regarding the poor, and sometimes unlawful, decisions by police officers with regard to the use of force, which served as the stated catalyst for the events of July 7, 2016. This is a fascinating account of a tragedy. It is also an unflinching look at what might be the greatest divide among Americans today, that of race and the culture that has grown up because of it. Anyone interested in understanding why police shootings have taken lives that should not have been taken, and the role race may or may not play in those decisions, needs to add STANDOFF to their reading list. I had some quibbles with a few gun-related facts (.22mm cartridges, for example, and the statement asserting AK-74s are designed to shoot hollow point bullets) but these are mechanical things that did nothing to detract from the deeper insight into the character of the officers who put their lives on the line and the skepticism of the community who distrusts their actions based upon statistics and experience. During the narrative, I found I wanted to argue not with Thompson, but with some of the characterizations of others she reports. One regarding the Kennedy assassination and its causes, I found misinformed, and the other being the oft-repeated observation that North Dallas continues to be monolithically white and conservative. (I would point to the voting record of District 32 to dispel this notion.) I found this work highly informative, fair, balanced, and frank. My few nitpicks are just that and nothing more. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Burnett

    On July 7, 2016, five Dallas law enforcement officers were killed and 11 people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a downtown march protesting the deaths of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, at the hands of police officers. Using exhaustive research and extensive firsthand accounts, Thompson provides a balanced accounting of that tragic day and the equally tragic events that led up to it, while also delving into the social and political forces that contributed. Her retel On July 7, 2016, five Dallas law enforcement officers were killed and 11 people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a downtown march protesting the deaths of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, at the hands of police officers. Using exhaustive research and extensive firsthand accounts, Thompson provides a balanced accounting of that tragic day and the equally tragic events that led up to it, while also delving into the social and political forces that contributed. Her retelling of the shooting and its aftereffects is through the eyes of those present which is a very effective format. Sadly, a takeaway from Standoff is that not much has changed since 2016. Listen to my author interviews here: https://www.thoughtsfromapage.com, and for more of my reviews, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro....

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    Wow. I am totally blown away by the comprehensiveness of this book. It is so thorough in describing the perspectives of the people involved in this incident and the feeling of the time. I think it really resonates given the recent death of George Floyd. The author’s extensive hours of work on this project shine through. I encourage everyone curious about the perspectives of police involved in mass shooting events to read this book. It covers their backstories, the real-time experiences, and the Wow. I am totally blown away by the comprehensiveness of this book. It is so thorough in describing the perspectives of the people involved in this incident and the feeling of the time. I think it really resonates given the recent death of George Floyd. The author’s extensive hours of work on this project shine through. I encourage everyone curious about the perspectives of police involved in mass shooting events to read this book. It covers their backstories, the real-time experiences, and the aftermath. To the extent possible, the experiences of civilians are represented as well. Heartbreaking from beginning to end.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deep Frey

    It's amazing how easy it is to forget some of the mass shootings in this country. Too much gun violence. I appreciate how this book gave all different perspectives.... black, white, police officer, doctor, civilian.... I was curious how much commentary there would be on police brutality or racism. The author's presentation was very matter of fact. She shared comments from the involved characters rather than present her own views. I enjoyed the content. The only reason I give 3 stars is because th It's amazing how easy it is to forget some of the mass shootings in this country. Too much gun violence. I appreciate how this book gave all different perspectives.... black, white, police officer, doctor, civilian.... I was curious how much commentary there would be on police brutality or racism. The author's presentation was very matter of fact. She shared comments from the involved characters rather than present her own views. I enjoyed the content. The only reason I give 3 stars is because the style was a little choppy.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Neil Read

    Intense Throughout The author makes the reader feel like they were there on July 7, 2016. An intense and personal book that raises as many questions on beliefs as it does answer questions of what really happened that day, the impact left on those who bravely died and those that lived through it. Thoroughly researched. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mam

    Intense! This is a compelling narrative of what happens when we ignore the racial/societal divides that afflict our country. Much of the story is told from the viewpoint of the police, but I didn't feel that there was real bias toward their viewpoint, as did another reviewer. It is factual. It is brutal. It is heartbreaking. But it gives the reader some much needed insight. Intense! This is a compelling narrative of what happens when we ignore the racial/societal divides that afflict our country. Much of the story is told from the viewpoint of the police, but I didn't feel that there was real bias toward their viewpoint, as did another reviewer. It is factual. It is brutal. It is heartbreaking. But it gives the reader some much needed insight.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard Pease

    An engaging look at the 2016 assault on the Dallas Police Department. This book not only tells the story of the people involved based on their recollection of the event, it also gives insight on the continuing racial injustice challenges we face in society today. A compelling read that will make you angry and sad at the same time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Donaldson

    An excellent, unbiased, and personal account of the Dallas shooting. The author faces the chaos inherent in an active shooter, by slowing down and viewing the event from multiple, real life, perspectives.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Interesting look at the ambush in Dallas. It is woven through with discussion about Black Lives Matter and how this shooter came to commit this horrific crime. Parts were really resonant and other parts felt a bit lecturey and off key with the rest of the story.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    Great read. Great recount of events and different perspectives. A must read for all who enjoy non-fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kyle W

    Excellent Account of Events A very detailed and personal account of events by those who were actually there. The darkest day in American law enforcement since 9/11.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dallas

    Extremely well researched by this author.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Larry Gordon

    Standoff was very well written. Jamie did a phenomenal job in her research. I was there and didn't know half that information. Standoff was very well written. Jamie did a phenomenal job in her research. I was there and didn't know half that information.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Gannett

    Very compelling!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha Rohm

    I absolutely loved this book. You go deep inside what the police were thinking and what they were doing during this rampage. It is truly a page turner.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    Read this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cahner Olson

    More book reviews on Instagram @cahnersbooks. Standoff is a minute by minute account of a deadly shooting in Dallas back in 2016. It kept me on the edge of seat the entire time as I wasn’t familiar with this shooting before reading the book. I also got a surprising takeaway from it that I want to outline in a pro/con list. Con: the writing felt extremely biased. The shooting took place at a BLM protest after police shot two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. It was one of the times wh More book reviews on Instagram @cahnersbooks. Standoff is a minute by minute account of a deadly shooting in Dallas back in 2016. It kept me on the edge of seat the entire time as I wasn’t familiar with this shooting before reading the book. I also got a surprising takeaway from it that I want to outline in a pro/con list. Con: the writing felt extremely biased. The shooting took place at a BLM protest after police shot two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. It was one of the times when tensions are really high between the public and police officers. The book is told *mostly* from the perspective of police officers, who are obviously pro police. Pro: I think I NEEDED to hear this perspective?! I remember being glued to Twitter after the death of George Floyd and seeing horrific videos coming out of protests across the country. It easily formed my opinion that police are too violent, need to be defunded, etc etc. While I still have those opinions, I realized it’s more complicated than that. Can we really tell someone how to do their job if we ourselves have never done that job? I highly recommend this book if only to hear an opposing side of the “defund the police” movement. The point isn’t to change your opinion, but to better educated yourself on all sides of the issue!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Bannister

    I Enjoyed everything about this book there was nothing I didn't like about the book. I Like the setting,the writing style,the plot,the plot twists and the characters in the book were amazing.I would gladly reread it again.I also like the concept of the book. I Enjoyed everything about this book there was nothing I didn't like about the book. I Like the setting,the writing style,the plot,the plot twists and the characters in the book were amazing.I would gladly reread it again.I also like the concept of the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Morris

    Read the book. It's not a ton of fun. Make up your own mind. If you go into it with preconceived notions you will get nothing out of it. Read the book. It's not a ton of fun. Make up your own mind. If you go into it with preconceived notions you will get nothing out of it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michele

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mirza Basim

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen

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