A Safeway in Arizona

A Safeway in Arizona

What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America

Book - 2011
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Examines the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on January 8, 2011 and the possible reasons behind its occurrence, including the state's struggle with the downturn of the real estate market, immigration and racial issues, high accessibility to guns, and other aspects of Arizona's political climate.
Publisher: New York : Viking, c2011
ISBN: 9780670023202
Branch Call Number: B Giffords
Characteristics: 276 p. ; 22 cm


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May 24, 2012

Initially I was irritated that the author of the book inserted himself into the story of Gabrielle Gifford's shooting at a Safeway in Arizona. But I soon changed my mind. Tom Zoellner is a long-time friend of Gifford's and was born & bred in Arizona so he had a lot to say. He's a good writer as well as intelligent, curious, and compassionate. It's a book worth reading.

I learned a lot about Giffords; for example, she once told the author that one of the best things about being elected to office is that you have an easy excuse to go up to interesting strangers, introduce yourself, and talk with them. I, and many others, think Giffords is quite charming. She is intelligent and dedicated and was clearly devoted to doing good for people.

I also learned a lot about Arizona, specifically Tucson and Phoenix, from the author. He looks at Arizona from a multiplicity of views. He even writes about golf's vital role in the development of Tucson & Phoenix. He adds, " That noble word - "dreaming" invariably shows up in the origin stories of the mega golf resorts, as though importing nonnative grass, and erecting casitas for high income visitors, and keeping out the riff raff elevates a successful business plan into a deed of valor."

Zoellner even writes about the shooter, a troubled soul with schizophrenia. He quotes experts who maintain that even within their psychosis, people are influenced by their society. The author of this book maintains that "The machine is broken but it is not deaf or blind." He believes that Jared Lee Loughner was influenced by the nasty political scene in Arizona, divisive and untrue talk radio, the easy availability of guns, the isolation of an Arizona culture which values individuality over all else, the lack of caring about other people, and the unwillingness to do anything about someone who was clearly in need of psychiatric treatment.

He casts a critical eye at the Arizona legislature which, in the session after Giffords was shot, voted to make the Colt Single Action Revolver the official "state gun". When one would think they would do some soul-searching and perhaps reform overly-permissive gun laws and look at mental health practices in the state, the legislature instead slashed mental health funds and attempted to make it legal to carry a gun on a college campus. The author also discusses illegal immigration, the changing demographics in Arizona, and the gun culture (even Giffords owned a gun).

He writes also of his own emotions, even about the stuffed animals donated to Gabby that he gathered up and re-distributed to hospitals. He is a very sensitive guy. He should be very proud of this book. It's excellent.


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