Life is a struggle.
From the moment the doctor smacks your behind and you gasp your first breath, till the moment you breathe out your last, you have to work hard to get where you live, what you own, how you move, and who you move with.
Some people fight more than others, literally and philosophically speaking. As you’ll read in “Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom” (c.2011, Lawrence Hill Books, $26.95 / $29.95 Canada, 328 pages, includes index) by Dr. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, LLD, (with Ken Klonsky), the aftermath of the battle can sometimes lead to a better life for the warrior.
Young Rubin Carter was known as a boy with fast fists. He wasn’t a bit scared to take down opponents that vastly outweighed him, and he’d do it, too, especially if the opponent was harming a vulnerable person.
His fists got him in trouble. He spent time at Jamesburg State Home for Boys in New Jersey, where he beat up a pedophile. He later escaped and joined the Army, where Carter found a mentor who taught him about Islam and helped him overcome a speech impediment and gain confidence.
The Army was also where he honed his boxing skills, but boxing was ultimately his undoing.
According to Carter, the mob tried to get him to throw a match and when he didn’t, he was framed for the murder of three white people. Though he was innocent, Carter was sent to prison for three consecutive life terms.
But he never allowed the system to imprison his mind.
Carter wrote a book about his life while in prison, and he sent it to dozens of people, including celebrities. His words came to the attention of some Canadians who believed in him and his innocence. They worked to clear him and, nearly two decades after he walked into prison, he was a free man.
Carter writes about his life since that day in 1985 when he was no longer an inmate. He explains how people are “asleep” and need to wake up to Truth. And he writes about his new passion: working to ensure that innocent people don’t languish behind bars, forgotten.
Let’s get this out of the way first: boxing fans looking for a hard-hitting story are going to be disappointed. “Eye of the Hurricane” is more private and preaching than it is pugilistic.
Author Rubin “Hurricane” Carter alternates between a little of the abstract, a lot of Bible (though he spurns organized religion), fascinating personal parables, keen insights and observations, and ideas that may puzzle you. Though this book is laden with grace and a feeling of peace and acceptance, Carter sometimes speaks in metaphors and stories that may turn some readers off.
Still, his tale of perseverance, strength, and personal conviction can’t help but inspire, especially if you’re in any sort of “prison”.
Overall, if you’re looking for a memoir you can read and discard, look elsewhere because “Eye of the Hurricane” demands contemplation and time for reflection. If you’ve got that, this book will pack a punch.