Nicholas Dawidoff at Harvard Book Store


The Other Side of Prospect:
A Story of Violence, Injustice, and the American City

in conversation with MAYA JASANOFF


November 2, 2022
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes NICHOLAS DAWIDOFF, critically acclaimed author of The Catcher Was a Spy, for a discussion of his new book The Other Side of Prospect: A Story of Violence, Injustice, and the American City. He will be joined in conversation by MAYA JASANOFF, Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to be back to in-person programming. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About The Other Side of Prospect

One New Haven summer evening in 2006, a retired grandfather was shot point-blank by a young stranger. A hasty police investigation culminated in innocent sixteen-year-old Bobby being sentenced to prison for thirty-eight years. New Haven native and acclaimed author Nicholas Dawidoff returned home and spent eight years reporting the deeper story of this injustice, and what it reveals about the enduring legacies of social and economic disparity.

In The Other Side of Prospect, he has produced an immersive portrait of a seminal community in an old American city now beset by division and gun violence. Tracing the histories of three people whose lives meet in tragedy―victim Pete Fields, likely murderer Major, and Bobby―Dawidoff indelibly describes optimistic families coming north from South Carolina as part of the Great Migration, for the promise of opportunity and upward mobility, and the harrowing costs of deindustrialization and neglect. Foremost are the unique challenges confronted by children like Major and Bobby coming of age in their “forgotten” neighborhood, steps from Yale University. After years in prison, with the help of a true-believing lawyer, Bobby is finally set free. His subsequent struggles with the memories of prison, and his heartbreaking efforts to reconnect with family and community, exemplify the challenges the formerly incarcerated face upon reentry into society and, writes Reginald Dwayne Betts, make this “the best book about the crisis of incarceration in America.”

The Other Side of Prospect is a reportorial tour de force, at once a sweeping account of how the injustices of racism and inequality reverberate through the generations, and a beautifully written portrait of American city life, told through a group of unforgettable people and their intertwined experiences.

Praise for The Other Side of Prospect

"This intricate book continues to grow like a tree in me―Bobby’s tender, persistent yearnings bound by the generations of contaminated soil that fear creates. Nicholas Dawidoff’s huge accomplishment is that he does the meticulous forensics of the crime of our fearing those in peril, and The Other Side of Prospect portrays the ongoing consequences of what we all continue to lose―all the knowledge lost, all the joy that’s stilled―when fear predominates. I finished reading his book with heartbreak and great gratitude. Its quest for broader justice pushes forward." ―Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, author of Random Family

"The Other Side of Prospect is an intimate and haunting recovery of lives both lost and found, potential both squandered and realized, and struggles both failed and furthered. It forces us to face the brutal injustice and inequality that defines our nation’s justice system as well as one of its richest and most prestigious cities, and to take a hard look at the deeper roots and wider resonances of that ugliness. The true gift of Nicholas Dawidoff’s powerful recovery of this wrongful conviction and the fight to have it overturned, however, is its ability to help us to see what is still irrevocably beautiful about this country, and thus what still may be possible for its future." ―Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Blood in the Water

"The Other Side of Prospect is a riveting narrative that shows and tells the story of a deeply distressed Black ghetto neighborhood severely challenged by the ills of deindustrialization, racialized poverty, and random street crime and violence―a must-read for anyone wishing to understand." ―Elijah Anderson, Sterling Professor of Sociology and of African American Studies, Yale University and author of Black in White Space

Maya Jasanoff
Maya Jasanoff

Maya Jasanoff

Maya Jasanoff is the Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard. She is the author of three books—Edge of Empire (2005), Liberty’s Exiles (2011), and The Dawn Watch (2017)—which have won accolades including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Cundill Prize in History, the George Washington Book Prize, and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Non-Fiction. She writes widely about history, literature, and world affairs for publications including The New Yorker and The New York Times. In 2021 she was chair of judges for the Booker Prize.

Nicholas Dawidoff
Nicholas Dawidoff

Nicholas Dawidoff

Nicholas Dawidoff is the author of four previous critically acclaimed books, including the bestselling The Catcher Was a Spy and The Crowd Sounds Happy. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Civitella Ranieri Fellow, a Berlin Prize Fellow of the American Academy, and an Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and is now a Branford Fellow at Yale University. A Pulitzer Prize finalist (for The Fly Swatter), Dawidoff is a contributor to The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone

Photo Credit: Erin Baiano

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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