Ghetto Brother

"Starkly drawn, boldly told, "Ghetto Brother" is a gem."
JUNOT DIAZ in New York Times Year in Reading, 12/19/16



GHETTO BROTHER- Warrior to Peacemaker
Julian Voloj, Claudia Ahlering
Introduction by Jeff Chang,
author of
"Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation"

An engrossing and counter view of one of the most dangerous elements of American urban history, this graphic novel tells the true story of Benjy Melendez, son of Puerto-Rican immigrants, who founded, at the end of the 1960s, the notorious Ghetto Brothers gang. From the seemingly bombed-out ravages of his neighborhood, wracked by drugs, poverty, and violence, he managed to extract an incredibly positive energy from this riot ridden era: his multiracial gang promoted peace rather than violence. After initiating a gang truce, the Ghetto Brothers held weekly concerts on the streets or in abandoned buildings, which fostered the emergence of hip-hop. Melendez also began to reclaim his Jewish roots after learning about his family’s dramatic crypto-Jewish background.

"Two excellent books accompanied me through the darkness of these last months. The first was Wesley Lowery's "They Can't Kill Us All"[…] and then there is Julian Voloj and Claudia Ahlering's superb graphic history "Ghetto Brother," which on the surface is a biography of Benjy Melendez, the Boricua brother who in the late '60s founded one of the Bronx's most notorious gangs: the Ghetto Brothers. But like the borough in which it is set, "Ghetto Brother" contains multitudes: The book is also a history of the multiracial Bronx, of its black and Puerto Rican communities, of its youth gangs, of hip-hop's rise from the gang truce that Benjy helped to forge, and finally it is the story of Benjy's awakening to his family's hidden Jewish faith. Starkly drawn, boldly told, "Ghetto Brother" is a gem."
JUNOT DIAZ in New York Times Year in Reading 12/19/16

Best Non-fiction Book of 2015.
Jewish Book Council

"Tight, gripping. Claudia Ahlering's clear black-and-white artwork elevates what could have been sentimentality into cinematic focus, and Julian Voloj's voice feels authentic, purposeful, and nimble. "
-Jewish Book Council
"One of 6 best GNs for Fall!"
-Foreword Reviews
'On the 10 Awesome Books for the 10 Days of Awe 5776 (high Jewish Holidays)'
-Jewish Book Council
"Excellent for both teens and adults interested in urban issues, this account shows how difficult it can be to bring about social change and how unexpected positive outcomes can result."
-Library Journal
"An inspiring true personal story of survival, loss, oppression, and reclaiming one’s heritage.."
"A coming-of-age story that will expand graphic novel collections with its incorporation of the historical oppression, community empowerment, and identities of marginalized communities in 1970s New York City."
-School Library Journal
“Vivid, illuminating. A worthy addition to the canon, Ghetto Brother is a brisk, compact work highlighting an overlooked, yet pivotal, part of the history of both a genre and a city.”
-Rolling Stone
"This wonderful book shows us that Jews come in a wide variety of ethnicities."
-Jerusalem Post
"Fascinating piece of history."
-Publishers Weekly
"NYC set book to seek out at MoCCA"
AM ny
"A fine documentary graphic novel of cultural and personal change for the better. Black-and-white pen and brush drawings that tips the hat to Ben Shahn and Käthe Kollwitz."
-Booklist starred review
Renowned Hip Hop dancer, Choreographer and Historian
"The gang truce back in the early seventies with Brother Benjy, with the Ghetto Brothers, Black Spades, the Savage Skulls, the Savage Nomads, Seven Immortals, the Reapers, Turbans, with all the major street organizations, was powerful. It was the time to put down the weapons against each other and try to organize… It was deep. It was powerful… We were all in the same game."
-Afrika Bambaataa
Founding Father of Hip Hop, Universal Zulu Nation
Participant in the 1971 Truce Summit
"The story of the Ghetto Brothers is the story of the Bronx in the 1970s… The Ghetto Brothers are still considered legendary by those who know."
Jeff Chang,
Hip Hop Historian
“Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation”
More reviews
6x9, 128pp., B&W, trade pb., $12.99;
ISBN 9781561639489


buy ebook ($8.99)


  Benjy on the Ghetto Brothers, the truce, and the music they made:



See and like the book’s facebook page of news run by the author!

What the press has been saying already during the making of this graphic novel:

And see the New York Daily News article on the 40th anniversary of the historic gang truce initiated by Benjy Melendez

Hear the piece on NPR’s ‘Backstory’ about the truce with interviews of Afrika Bambaataa, Benjy Melendez and Julian Voloj

Hear Publishers Weekly’s interview of Benjy and Julian at MoCCA fest.

  NBM Publishing 160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing New York, NY 10038 Tel: 1-800-886-1223

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