THE COMBAT ZONE
Murder, Race, and Boston’s Struggle for Justice
The Combat Zone is a true account of a brutal murder, two flawed trials and the not so delicate balance between justice and revenge. It tells the story of an annual Harvard ritual that sent forty football players into Boston’s crime-plagued red light district for a “last drink, together,” and the death of a heroic 21-year old cornerback who tries to save a friend.
Three Black men are charged with first degree murder in a racially divided city at the peak of busing violence. The book tells story of a victim’s family trying to cope with a devastating loss, while verdicts seesaw, and the Italian mob offers to step in.
The 1976 murder and the city’s two trials will forever change the way juries are chosen in Massachusetts and the nation, and end the once common practice of excluding jurors based on the color of their skin. But it comes at a high price for Andy Puopolo and all those who grieve.
The Combat Zone shows how a murder trial isn’t always about the victim or the accused, but about a city in turmoil and a criminal justice system in need of reform.
—Joseph Nevins, Dig Boston
—Author Stephanie Schorow
—NYT bestselling author B.A. Shapiro
—Author Christopher Daley
“The careful, meticulous research, the compassionate yet balanced tone, and the compelling narrative thrust make this book read almost like a legal or crime thriller. Brogan does a superb job in untangling this complex case.”
—Stephanie Schorow, author of Inside the Combat Zone: The Stripped Down Story of Boston’s Most Notorious Neighborhood
“This book weaves a suspenseful narrative into a fascinating history of a city in tumult and how that tumult helped produce opposite verdicts in trials only two and a half years apart…. it’s a real page turner.”
—B.A. Shapiro, NYT bestselling author of the historical novels, The Art Forger, The Muralist, and The Collector’s Apprentice
“The Combat Zone effectively moves forward the conversation on race, highlighting the tumultuous time of busing in Boston and the racial strife that it caused, the conditions of minorities that were forced by circumstance to seek a livelihood in the Combat Zone, and how the media covered Black murder victims differently than white murder victims.”
—Christopher Daley, author of Murder and Mayhem in Boston: Historic Crimes in the Hub
“A great strength of Brogan’s book is the broad context that she provides—one of overlapping divisions of race, class, and geography—to make sense of how the legal proceedings unfolded… Brogan writes with empathy for all involved in the events she so capably explores surrounding Puopolo’s death. In doing so, she considers matters of trauma and justice as well as the rights of victims and those of the accused. She also highlights how much Boston has changed in the almost five decades since, while taking pains to emphasize its unjust continuities.”
—Joseph Nevins, Dig Boston