The cover of the book ‘Lazarus and the Hurricane’ has Denzil Washington on it. He acted in the movie ‘The Hurricane’ which is based on the true life story of US middleweight boxing champion, Rubin Carter, during the 1960s. So it took me a while to connect all the obituaries that came out over the past couple of days, featuring pictures of the real Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, with the powerful book I’d read.
Lazarus was a young boy from Brooklyn, who was mentored (and later adopted) by a couple of Canadian entrepreneurs who were working in the US. Lazarus’ chance reading of Carter’s book ‘The Sixteenth Round’ written from prison, changes his life. Shocked by how Carter was serving a life term for a triple murder he never committed, the young boy who’d just recently acquired reading and writing skills, decided he’d get Carter out of prison. The fact that he succeeds makes you believe in the power of persistence.
The book is many stories rolled into one. Carter’s career as a boxer, that’s cut short brutally by the life term he’s handed out. Lazarus’ heartwarming growing up years, watched over by his Canadian mentors (who are the authors of the book, incidentally). How Lazarus’ cause becomes a crusade for his entire foster family — they actually move to the US to fight the case to get Rubin Carter out of jail. I needed to constantly remind myself that this was all TRUE and not some thriller!
I’ve got a 1991 edition of the book (second hand from good old Blossom) but I’m sure ‘Lazarus and the Hurricane’ is still in print (Denzil Washington would have taken care of that, I’m sure). If not, it’s bound to be reprinted, now that Carter has died…having spent his last years as a free man in Canada, working with an NGO that helps those who’ve been wrongly convicted. Grab a copy if you get a chance. It’s unputdownable.