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One Cop's Story of Patrolling America's Most Dangerous City

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


9 square miles. 10,000 criminals. 130 cops. A riveting memoir by Baker, California's most-decorated police officer

Compton: the most violent and crime-ridden city in America. What had been a semi-rural suburb of Los Angeles in the 1950s became a battleground for the Black Panthers and Malcolm X Foundation, the home of the Crips and Bloods and the first Hispanic gangs, and the cradle of gangster rap. At the center of it, trying to maintain order was the Compton Police Department, never more than 130-strong, and facing an army of criminals that numbered over 10,000. At any given time, fully one-tenth of Compton's population was in prison, yet this tidal wave of crime was held back by the thinnest line of the law—the Compton Police.

John R. Baker was raised in Compton, eventually becoming the city's most decorated officer involved in some of its most notorious, horrifying and scandalous criminal cases. Baker's account of Compton from 1950 to 2001 is one of the most powerful and compelling cop memoirs ever written—an intensely human account of sacrifice and public service, and the price the men and women of the Compton Police Department paid to preserve their city.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 15, 2010 – Born and raised in Compton, the city in L.A. county notoriously home to the Bloods and Crips gangs, Baker traces both the history of the city and his own rise from rookie to detective in his gritty memoir. Co-written with screenwriter Rivele (Nixon), Baker, born in 1942, describes growing up the son of a white father and Mexican mother, learning early on how to sidestep racial boundaries yet never walking away from a fight. He joins the Compton Police Department in 1968 after earning a sociology degree and serving in the Marine Corps, hoping to fulfill his need for adventure and serve his town. Baker recounts the racial shift in Compton beginning in the late 1950s as "white flight" began and the area became predominantly black, though by the TKTKs Hispanics became the majority and the rise of brutal gang violence. Along with his fellow officers, Baker was more often than not outnumbered on the streets by criminals, but describes a police force dedicated to protecting the community, even if that means doling out some unorthodox, Compton-style justice.

Customer Reviews


This is a good read in that it offers detailed history about the city of Compton as well as some insight of what is was like for a cop during the 60s 70s and 80s in the doomed city that is Compton. Some of the stories are quite graphic and well described, while the dialogue between characters is somewhat plain and cliche. I did feel an understanding for the main character but not a real connection. It would have been nice if there were a few photographs of officer Baker and some of the locations in the city that were fixtures in the book. Overall I'm happy with making the purchase and feel like I learned something.


Outstanding Book !! Those who know the City of Compton can truly relate , it's a special city full of heartbreak & hope . Mr Baker has a lifetime of memories & accomplishments as I endure my time in this Grand city & embark making my own memories ... Reading this book makes me more humble & eager to continue what was already done setting the bar extremely high .

View in iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jan 18, 2011
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 432 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings