Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
When Crack Was King by Donovan X. Ramsey
Add When Crack Was King to bookshelf
Add to Bookshelf

When Crack Was King

Best Seller
When Crack Was King by Donovan X. Ramsey
Paperback $19.99
Jul 02, 2024 | ISBN 9780525511816

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (3) +
  • $19.99

    Jul 02, 2024 | ISBN 9780525511816

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • $30.00

    Jul 11, 2023 | ISBN 9780525511809

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Jul 11, 2023 | ISBN 9780525511823

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Jul 11, 2023 | ISBN 9780593741313

    694 Minutes

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Listen to a sample from When Crack Was King

Product Details


“A compassionate and urgent story that centers the victims of this superdrug, When Crack Was King is an illuminating look at the devastating, racialized impacts of the U.S. criminal justice system—and a warning for us to do better as more drug epidemics rear their ugly heads.”Time

“[A] panoramic social history . . . Ramsey aims to give the story of the crack epidemic a human face while telling it from start to finish, a herculean task. By and large he succeeds.”The New York Times (Editors’ Choice)

“[Ramsey] makes a convincing case that government policies criminalized what was essentially a public health crisis, and he busts some of the most pernicious media-generated myths of the epidemic—including the much ballyhooed threat of the ‘crack baby.’”—NPR

“We haven’t reckoned with the crack era, or pinned it as the historical marker it was. . . . Ramsey gives the full view, from teenagers who grew up in the shadow of crack to city leaders who got overwhelmed by it. The sweep is long overdue.”—Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic

“[Ramsey] looks at the crack epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s from several perspectives, from a Newark drug kingpin to a former Baltimore mayor to a longtime addict, and asks the reader to reconsider the details of a life-shattering scourge.”Boston Globe

“[When Crack Was King] manages to convey the scope of history while also remaining grounded in the specific and personal. And it feels particularly relevant as America stares down another drug epidemic with no clear end in sight.”Los Angeles Times

“Ramsey takes a wide and necessary view of the choices—sinister and well-meaning alike—that led to the epidemic. To complement his sweeping historical and political analysis, Ramsey also spends time with individual people who weathered the worst of the era and lived to share its lessons.”The Millions

“Illuminating . . . For all its traumas, When Crack Was King . . . is also a narrative of redemption, telling of the thousands of extraordinary decisions by ordinary people that brought the crack epidemic to an end.”The Guardian

“Beautifully composed and carefully researched, When Crack Was King is a thoroughgoing survey of the crack epidemic. Since I lived through it, I thought I knew about this period—until I read this clear-eyed book.”—Ibram X. Kendi, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Be an Antiracist

“Forget what you think you know about the crack era, because this definitive account resets the record. Both unflinching and compassionate, it has the power to expand your heart. It’s a stunning and unforgettable debut.”—Heather McGhee, author of New York Times bestseller The Sum of Us

“Donovan X. Ramsey tells the story of the crack era—its causes, victims, and survivors—with insight and compassion. If you’re anything like me, you won’t soon forget the characters on these pages.”—James Forman Jr., Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Locking Up Our Own

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Back to Top