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The incredible story of the death of Eric Garner, the birth of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement and the new faultlines of race, protest, policing and the power of people.

‘A brilliant work of narrative nonfiction’
‘Matt Taibbi is one of the few journalists in America who speaks truth to power’Bernie Sanders
‘A searing exposé’ Kirkus Review
‘Taibbi may be the only political writer in America that matters’ Hartford Advocate

The incredible story of the death of Eric Garner, the birth of the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and the new fault lines of race, protest, policing and the power of the people.

On July 17, 2014, a forty-three-year-old black man named Eric Garner died in New York after a police officer put him in a "chokehold" during an arrest for selling bootleg cigarettes. The final moments of his life were captured on video and seen by millions – his agonised last words, “I can’t breathe,” becoming a rallying cry for the nascent Black Lives Matter protest movement.

Matt Taibbi, bestselling author and “the best polemic journalist in America”, tells the full story of the man who inspired a movement – neither villain nor victim, but a fiercely proud individual determined to do the best he could for his family. Featuring vivid vignettes of life on the street, this powerful narrative of urban America is a riveting work of literary journalism and a scathing indictment of law enforcement in the twenty-first century. I Can’t Breathe tells the story of one man to tell the story of countless others, and the power of people to rise up against injustice.


Marries the best instincts of explanatory narrative journalism with uncompromising moral clarity ... a vital account of police violence. Taibbi, through thorough reporting and captivating writing, captures the totality of an American tragedy

Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of THEY CAN'T KILL US ALL: THE STORY OF BLACK LIVES MATTER

[A] brilliant work of narrative nonfiction ... a necessary and riveting work


The narrative unfolds like an episode of The Wire. . . . Heartbreaking and compulsively readable

Washington Post

One of the most important voices in contemporary American journalism


[A] searing exposé … what emerges from the author's superb reporting and vivid writing is a tragically revealing look at a broken criminal justice system

Kirkus Review (STARRED REVIEW)

Richly reported and evocative ... The result here is a vivid folk history that should prove useful to anyone who seeks to understand the world Eric Garner inhabited

Jill Leovy, bestselling author of GHETTOSIDE

Matt Taibbi is one of the few journalists in America who speaks truth to power

Bernie Sanders

A complex and textured examination of the complicated personalities, flawed legal system, and politics revolving around the police killing of 43-year-old Eric Garner, whose final words became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Boston Globe (listed in 'Must Read Books for the Fall')

Matt Taibbi is the best polemic journalist in America

Felix Salmon

Matt Taibbi is [Hunter S.] Thompson’s heir. . .

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Taibbi may be the only political writer in America that matters

Hartford Advocate

What Matt Taibbi does most beautifully, most necessarily, is he gives Eric Garner that thing the police who choked him to death that day -- and much of the media as well -- denied this man: His humanity. Through impeccable reporting, Taibbi reveals to us, finally, Eric Garner the man, the father, the lover, the friend.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, award-winning correspondent, The New York Times Magazine

An engrossing and provocative exploration of the many people, systems, and forces that helped to kill Eric Garner and all those who struggled in vain for justice to be done

Michelle Alexander, bestselling author of THE NEW JIM CROW

A must-read for anyone interested in what gets excused in the name of 'law and order' ... an insightful, important account

Library Journal

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    November 19, 2018

    WH Allen

    304 pages

    RRP $30.00

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    October 26, 2017

    Virgin Digital

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
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    • Kobo Ebook
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