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The Shooting of Rabbit Wells

A White Cop, a Young Man of Color, and an American Tragedy

What put a white cop and a black youth on a tragic collision course? On a frigid winter’s night in 1973, William “Rabbit” Wells, a young man of mixed race, was shot and killed by a white policeman named William Sorgie outside a bar. The shooting stunned the placid, prosperous communities of New York. For twenty-five years author William Loizeaux, who went to high school with Rabbit, hasn't been able to let go of a story that struck at the core of the place that he, along with Rabbit and Sorgie, called home. With clear-eyed compassion and unsparing honesty, The Shooting of Rabbit Wells recreates the lives of both victim and killer and the forces that brought them together. By giving us the life of Rabbit Wells, Loizeaux makes us understand—and feel—how unacceptable and irreparable his loss was, and how deeply the bullet that killed him is lodged in the American identity.

William Loizeaux grew up in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, is the author of Anna: A Daughter’s Life and the novel A Tumble Inn, and works for children. He lives with his wife in Boston, where he is Writer-in-Residence at Boston University.

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