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Book of the week: A survivor's tale of friendship in life and death

Steve and Me: my friendship with Stephen Lawrence and the search for justice
By Duwayne Brooks with Simon Hattenstone
Abacus pound;7.99 <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" >

There's more to this book than meets the eye, and a lot meets the eye. Mostly it'd the frightening inefficiency - ineptitude laced with racism - of the police, and the incompetence of the Crown Prosecution Service. Only eight of the 300 pages are about school. It was at Blackheath Bluecoat school that Duwayne Brooks became Stephen Lawrence's best friend.

This book provides a fresh slant on Stephen's appalling death one night 10 years ago, following a gang attack on him and Brooks by young white thugs in a part of south-east London notorious for racist attacks. We hear of Brooks's subsequent trauma; of the events then Home Secretary Jack Straw put in train, leading to the Macpherson inquiry on the handling of Stephen's murder; of Brooks's friendship with a white middle-class woman lawyer; of the consequences of his decision to sue the police; of the concocted rape case against him; and of the multiple "police questioning" black youngsters experience as part of everyday urban life. In short, to read this book is to begin to understand what it feels like to be a black teenager in inner-city London in the last decade of the 20th century.

Read this review in full in this week's TES Friday


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