New book uses 'The Wire' to explore urban ills

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Baltimore's former health commissioner has come out with a way that just might get regular people to care about public policy -- he mixes in a heavy dose of "The Wire."

Dr. Peter Beilenson, who's now Howard County's chief health officer has written a book with journalist Patrick McGuire called "Tapping into The Wire: The Real Urban Crisis." Each chapter is a different scene from the beloved HBO show, but with the storylines broadened to examine public policy questions.


Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, the 232-pager comes out Sept. 6, but it's already available for pre-order -- and it already has a raving review from Omar.

"Living in Baltimore for most of the five years that I filmed The Wire," actor Michael Kenneth Williams writes, "I was astounded to see how closely life mirrors art for too many residents of this — and most other — major cities in America. I hope the readers of this intriguing book really 'feel' the problems that are highlighted and emerge committed to change."

Here's how Amazon describes the book:

"Did Omar Little die of lead poisoning? Would a decriminalization strategy like the one in Hamsterdam end the War on Drugs? What will it take to save neglected kids like Wallace and Dukie? Tapping into 'The Wire' uses the acclaimed television series as a road map for exploring connections between inner-city poverty and drug-related violence. Past Baltimore City health commissioner Peter Beilenson teams up with former Baltimore Sun reporter Patrick A. McGuire to deliver a compelling, highly readable examination of urban policy and public health issues affecting cities across the nation."


According to Amazon, even if you didn't watch the show, one would be able to get into the book.

Beilenson, who has also taught a public heath class at Hopkins with a 'Wire' theme, and McGuire will talk about their book at the Enoch Pratt Free Library at 7 p.m. Sept. 11.

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