The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace - Jeff Hobbs

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

By Jeff Hobbs

  • Release Date: 2014-09-23
  • Genre: Social Science
Score: 4.5
From 488 Ratings


An instant New York Times bestseller, named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Amazon, and Entertainment Weekly, among others, this celebrated account of a young African-American man who escaped Newark, NJ, to attend Yale, but still faced the dangers of the streets when he returned is, “nuanced and shattering” (People) and “mesmeric” (The New York Times Book Review).

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks.

A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all this “fresh, compelling” (The Washington Post) story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and “a haunting American tragedy for our times” (Entertainment Weekly).


  • Riveting, but missing something

    By More Anxious
    I listened to the audiobook for hours because a friend who recommended the book mistakenly alluded to his death by suicide and that was puzzling. I listened to a well written and highly descriptive portrait of two communities, both of which I know, as a Yale graduate and faculty at Rutgers Newark. I expected this vivid portrayal of a brilliant, caring, streetwise young man to descend into depression, rumination, guilt and the suicide that I was expecting. As the author stated, “we didn’t know Rob.” It seems to me that his risk taking and indifference to danger were a slow suicide fueled by guilt over his father, his sense of being the outsider at Yale, his anger at the racism he constantly experienced, as well as depression and addiction. Although these feelings can be inferred from the vivid chronicle of events in his life, the absence of Rob’s introspection and meaningful dialogue with friends and family lead us wondering what was really going on inside of Rob Peace.

    By kalexxis_
    I have the physical book and I couldn't put it down. I received it as a Christmas gift almost 2 years before I read it and let me just say I was missing out. This book was amazing. I laughed, I cried, I felt like I knew him. I've lived and grown up in New Jersey all my life and the fact that all of this took place no more than 30 minutes away from me breaks my heart even more. Rest In Peace Rob Peace. ❤
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

    By willowgh
    Hopeful, then sad.
  • Untrustworthy

    By ImABlackPoem
    Untrustworthy biography from a struggling writer from Yale. Paints the Peace family in a negative and inauthentic light. The book is only interesting because of the ridiculous subject matter - Yale grad turned low level drug dealer gets murdered. But the author doesn't really know Rob Peace and, therefore, does a terrible job at portraying Rob Peace. I don't recommend this biography to anyone. It's simply the author's subpar job at trying to get money to pay off student loans. Too bad the image of Rob Peace suffers along the way.
  • Captivating

    By wiggyswish
    I bought this book because I mentor 2 young boys in Baltimore city whom are bright and hopefully college bound. My job as I see it is to remove them from the block as much as possible so that the opportunity to gain outweighs the magnet that the ghetto possesses. In any event this book is masterfully written, I couldn't put it down.
  • A Must Read!

    By Mrs. CK
    There aren't words sufficient to describe what an incredible read I discovered when coming across this book. So well written that I found myself stopping to pick up the phone multiple times per day to encourage others to take the journey through Robert Peace's life. No matter who you are, you're sure to find remnants of your life intertwined in his, or those who shaped his life, in some way. A great insight into the psyche of someone who's story is a reflection of many of our nation's youth.
  • The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

    Excellent done! Although a tragic story, one that contains a myriad of "life-long" lessons.
  • Rob Peace

    By BERnie8789
    While I thought the start of this book very interesting, it began to get more and more dragged out. Tragic life, in some ways. But necessary, in no way. From my perspective, a totally wasted gift that Rob threw away. He seemed to have every chance to give himself and his mother a good life, but he refused ultimately to let go of the baggage. The only person I felt sorry for in this story was his mother. She was the one who gave all and never had a chance.
  • A painfully difficult read

    By MelliMel718
    There were times when I almost wanted to stop reading this book! The title alone let's you know that Rob is going to die young. The writer makes you want to shake Rob and say "what the hell are you thinking, man?" Nevertheless, it was a great story! Probably could have been written a bit better but I live a good story!
  • Amongst Those

    By Senoj 55
    I personally would like to thank Jeff for telling this remarkable story........ A story that's rare but not totally uncommon in the black community. My best friend (since 1967) had a much similar story. He was a blessed with a photographic memory, great charisma, street smarts beyond his years and an inspiration to all who knew him. Like Rob, his genius allowed him to academic excellence in high school and college. His street smarts made him a lot of money. Like Rob, he just couldn't make the transition...... Like Rob, his life ended prematurely and tragically. He died of a suicidal drug overdose the same year (1979) we graduated from college. I finished this book through tear filled eyes. I ending up loving Rob as I loved my friend and was heart broken all over again. Thanks Jeff,,,,,,,for Rob was amongst those with a very special and rare gift..........the gift of being a genuinely great person.