“Treating Violence: An Emergency Room Doctor Takes On a Deadly American Epidemic” by Rob Gore, MD

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  • c.2024, Beacon Press
  • $27.95
  • 200 pages

Well, thank you so much to your co-worker.

That’s where you got this ick, this scratchy-throat, achy-body, upset-stomach, can’t-sleep virus. He sneezed and that’s all it took. Now you’ve got what he had and you’re trying not to spread it anymore. As you know, and as in the new book “Treating Violence” by Rob Gore, MD, an epidemic affects everybody.

Once upon a time, Rob Gore had a brother.

Angel wasn’t biologically related but within a short time after Gore’s parents fostered the young boy, Gore considered Angel as a sibling. They tussled and played together. Gore watched over his “brother” and when Angel got older, he did the same for Gore. But Angel was anything but an angel and slowly, he turned to hustling drugs.

Gore says he wishes he’d done more to stop him. Eventually, Angel went to prison.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Gore knew that the streets were not kind to people who looked like him, people with brown or Black skin, and he understood early how privileged he was. He was granted — and sometimes squandered — the best education. In high school, after he was given a chance to “shadow” sports medicine practitioners, and after he noticed a lack of Black people in medical careers, he saw his own future. Gore attended Morehouse College, with an eye toward helping Black and brown people in crisis.

According to the CDC, he said, “Homicide … is the number-two cause of death for Black males ages one to nine” but there are ways to identify issues before they become dangerous, out-of-control problems. The process moves through examination of a person’s childhood traumas and what happened to them as adults, followed by listening, validating and asking for calm. Gore understood this as a young doctor, and he decided to do something about it.

“Lack of funding was a roadblock” for it, he said, “but the seed was planted and my conviction continued to grow.”

You’re tired of attending funerals and tired of reading about another dead child somewhere. You’re ready to act. You’re ready to read “Treating Violence.”

Indeed, this book might light a fire under you: Gore first explains what street violence does to Black communities and families, which is shocking and upsetting. This begins his biography, which is a brief (too-brief!) set-up for how and why Gore ultimately founded KAVI, an organization that uses trained volunteers to lower the anger level and any desires for revenge when someone is the victim of violence. The story is a rousing one, but readers may feel a bit cheated by the rushed transition from Gore’s life and his work as an ED doctor, to KAVI. Information on KAVI and similar organizations may spur you to take action. An abrupt stoppage of Gore’s personal stories may disappoint you.

Still, with the Surgeon General’s recent warning on gun use in mind, “Treating Violence” couldn’t be more timely or necessary. Find it, read it for the excellent biography and the ideas, statistics and urgency — and get to work.