Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin

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Knopf, 1996 - Social Science - 381 pages
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The subject of this bizarrely apt State of the Union address - Brett C. Kimberlin - is at once ordinary and bewitching, an elfin entrepreneur whose talent as a legitimate businessman was surpassed only by his daring as a smuggler who moved tons upon tons of marijuana from Mexico, Colombia, and the Caribbean to the American heartland. In his native Indiana, Kimberlin either did or did not sell pot on a regular basis to "Danny" Quayle - a claim against the potential, and later sitting, vice president that he parlayed into his own media-friendly martyrdom, thus achieving the apotheosis of his remarkably accomplished career of self-invention. So, where did Kimberlin come from? And was he finally, if not the political prisoner he claimed to be, a figure inseparable from - despite or because of his admitted criminal past - our own countercultural legacy? For a rash of inexplicable bombings that terrorized his hometown of Indianapolis, was he the architect; or a victim of the government's rigged prosecution? When he tried to speak with reporters about Quayle, were his civil rights violated even before he threatened to shift votes in the campaign for the republic's highest office? Or is Kimberlin's story in fact a perverted Horatio Alger myth, the yarn of a remarkably gifted jailhouse lawyer and manipulator? A saga of audacious intrigue, crime, and punishment, of planeloads of marijuana and the officially unsolved murder of an elderly woman suspicious of Kimberlin's intimacies, of journalistic culpability and political connivance and legal complexity right up to the Supreme Court, Citizen K is at once powerfully entertaining and hugely instructive. By means of prodigious research, vivid prose, high comedy, and seriousness, as well as intense personal, intellectual, and moral scrutiny, Singer asks: What, after all, does it mean to be a citizen, a lawyer, or a judge, a writer or dissenter or elected official? How do we balance "news" on the one hand and ethics on the other? And how do our expectations as citizens square with the responsibilities implicit in that contract?

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Citizen K: the deeply weird American journey of Brett Kimberlin

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New Yorker staff writer Singer (Funny Money, Knopf, 1985) tells the story of Brett Kimberlin, a self-promoting Midwestern boy in a hurry. While still in his teens he was part-owner of a legitimate ... Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Singer graduated from Yale University. Since 1974, he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker.

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