Library Column: Award-winning journalist to discuss new book

Polly Gallagher
Grand County Library District

What forces could cause an anti-gang activist, focused on bringing peace to his community, to shoot a man at his own peace rally?

It’s a question that’s central to author Julian Rubinstein’s latest book “The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood” and one Rubinstein will discuss at a public event that starts at 6 p.m. Friday in Granby. Rubinstein will talk about the book, answer questions and sign copies of his work during an onstage interview with fellow author Martin J. Smith. The author talk in the event center at River Run is hosted by Grand County Library Foundation with GCLD’s Grand County Community of Writers.

Rubinstein spent seven years investigating the pivotal shooting in the Denver neighborhood known as The Holly. He takes readers through time as the once-affluent Park Hill area neighborhood became a hub of Denver’s gang activity and drug trade. He continues to share the struggle as community members, politicians and activists attempt to reclaim parts of the neighborhood and create a safe place for the community’s children. Booklist notes it is “a shattering piece of investigative journalism involving street gangs, race relations, and law enforcement.”

“I’d grown up in Denver and was intrigued when I read about the shooting in the New York Times,” comments Rubinstein. “I flew home and started talking to people. At a certain point, I realized that the voluminous public reporting on the case did not square with my own reporting in the community. Ultimately, I saw that this one shooting case was a window into understanding so much more—about policing in vulnerable communities, about what it was like growing up a gang member, about the development and “gentrification” of neighborhoods and about how and why violence happens. I moved back to Denver and spent the next seven years working on the book (and the documentary which we are almost finished with).”

Now a visiting professor of Documentary Journalism at the University of Denver, Rubinstein is an award-winning journalist, producer and international bestselling author. His work spans sports, travel, fiction and investigative journalism. He is noted for his ability to gain access to people and places believed inaccessible.

“Julian’s ‘The Holly’ is a must-read for anybody familiar with the Park Hill section of Denver, and who wants to understand its complicated place in the city’s social and racial history,” said Smith, the Grand County Community of Writers co-founder who will moderate the Friday evening event with Rubinstein. “I thought I knew a lot about Denver. Turns out, there’s a lot more I didn’t know.”


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