Archive for March, 2021

Review: Tangled Up in Blue

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

Tangled Up in Blue was not what I expected. My impression was that the book was intended as an analysis of the state of modern policing with the twist that the author spent a few years as a patrol officer. I’ve read a couple of these and I was looking forward to see what Rosa Brooks did with it.

Brooks is one of the few pundits whose insight I respect on deep issues. Her resume includes time with the State Department in places like Afghanistan and she is also a Law Professor at Georgetown. Resumes are one thing, and I’ve been impressed by Brooks’s thinking across a wide range of topics.

Despite all that preparation, Tangled was not what I expected. There is a surprising amount of it that is self-reflection and memoir about the decision to become a volunteer officer in DC and the effects the process had on her and her family and friends. That openness lights up the descriptions of her policing experiences and reactions to them as well. To the extent that Tangled is an analysis, that openness brings a visceral edge to it.

Another part of Tangled that I respect is that it is ultimately neither analysis nor memoir. There are issues and situations she explores in scholarly depth and with personal soul-searching, but she reaches few conclusions. Because she has provided such a rich context, the paucity of conclusions seems like an insightful assessment of the complexity of the situation. Even without a a bow around it, her rich exploration is powerful.

Strongly Recommended.