Lazarus and The Hurricane
Published in 1999, this book retraces a saga which begins back in 1979. A motley group of Canadians from diverse backgrounds, are working on various projects; one of which, is adopting socially deprived children. Three of them meet a poor black kid from Brooklyn, New York, called Lesra, and so begins one of the most moving and heartrendering stories one would ever believe.
Lesra is illiterate and one day, they take him to a book market, to purchase some books to commence his long road of education. One book catches his eye: The Sixteenth Round, the story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who when World middleweight boxing contender in 1966, was wrongfully convicted of the murder of three whites in a bar. As Lesra begins his journey of discovery, he gets drawn into profound depths of emotion, turmoil, eloquence, courage, injustice and human resilience. He develops an empathy with the writer and prisoner, so much so, that he decides to write to him. This is the start of an odyssey which changes their lives forever.
Rubin Carter’s story, as it unfolds before their eyes, was a harrowing one: first imprisoned at the age of eleven, as a child offender, defending himself from an attempted buggery, he subsequently found himself pursued and harassed by the New Jersey Police for the remainder of his youth. When in the army in the 50’s, he is apprehended - for his previous prison escape - and thrown back into jail; effectively, spending the rest of his life behind bars. His conviction in 1966 for the murder of three whites in a bar in Patterson, New Jersey, was predicated over a background of racial hostilities and tensions, the trial itself was racially motivated, vital evidence for the defence omitted and was a mistrial.
After meeting Carter, both Lesra and his adopted parents, soon realise that this man whilst in jail has acquired fine literary sensibilities, eloquence, has a resilience and a moral rectitude; this all helps to strengthen their faith and belief in him and they are hurled into a cause of the heart, from which there is no turning back…..They decide to move from Toronto to New Jersey, devote themselves full-time to an investigation of Rubin’s case, for the express purpose of re-opening it.
What they embark upon, would prove to be a very onerous task, highly dangerous, in which brooks of tremendous force would open from many clefts, even amounting to attempted murder. Many other people, famous or otherwise alike had taken an interest in the story too but after facing the many insurmountable obstacles pitched against them, dissipated into the background: the singer Joan Baez, Muhammed Ali, the boxer Joe Frazier and most famously, Bob Dylan. It was his song "The Hurricane", which gave the story an international audience.
The book moves incredibly fast like an action-packed thriller, a detective/murder investigation of Sherlock Holmes dimensions; in the midst of all of this, appear some very complex legal conundrums and technicalities.
The three Canadians armed with their passion and zeal for Carter are tireless in their quest, the meticulousness of detail applied in their probing, any lawyer would have been proud of! They wade through an intricate and seemingly infinite maze of incidents, people, events, details, facts, proofs, conclusions, questions, as if their lives depend on it. They are modern Don Quixotes, jousting at the windmills of perjury, police corruption and hostility and the ‘wrong’ done to their friend Rubin! One name repeatedly crops up like a dark nemesis eternally haunting Rubin Carter’s morning dawn: De La Pesca; the New Jersey Cop who has been waiting like a predator for Rubin, since the age of eleven and has been pursuing him with an indescribable hatred ever since. And this is where the shaft in the chasm of hope begins to open for the seekers.
In 1985, six years since the three Canadians met Lesra and he picked up a second hand copy of The Sixteenth Round, they arrive aat the stage, in which a colossal indictment of the prosecution, Rubin’s mistrial, the systematic cleansing of defence evidence, the distortion of truth, the complicit corruption of the New Jersey Police and State department is amassed. As Rubin Carter goes to the Federal Court, there is an expectant breeze outside the state penitentiary and as he walks into the Courthouse, an air of hope is wafting around his prison cellmates, the assembled media, observers, friends, that he will be freed. And the inevitable happens as sure as a planted seed must harvest; the strange case of serendipity six years previously, had a reason and purpose after all; fate had scripted a wondrous finale for Lesra, Sam, Terry, Lisa and Rubin. "The Hurricane" is free to blow in the wild again.
This book is an inspiration; it warms your blood even on the harshest winter day; it is a testimony to endurance against spite; to the eternality of friendship; to the boundless depths the human soul will go to seek justice; for good overcoming evil; for truth to shine through as if entering the world for the first time. It will enter your consciousness and remain embedded there forever; Lazarus and the Hurricane will cling to your heart and never let go…….