Last year I read and reviewed Homicde: A Year on the Killing Streets, also written by David Simon. After having written this Simons editor suggested that their may be a story to be found with the people that he routinely ran into on 'the corner'. This small spark of an idea eventually lead David Simon and Ed Burns to start looking into and researching ideas for the book. The two men spent a year gaining the confidence of the various touts, slingers and dope fiends that were to be found on Fayette Street in West Baltimore. It was a difficult task due to the fact that they were white,  middle class, and also because of the fact that Ed Burns was once a cop and was recognised by some of the older street hustlers. After proving that they weren't cops, snitches or anything other than what they purported to be the two men were taken into the confidence of the neighbourhood. They then spent a further year following various denizens of the corner in order to report back on what was going on in the heart of the city. The main focus of the book is on one family, the McCullochs, who have fallen by the wayside due to drugs and drug dealing, but they aren't ready to give up without a fight. Gary McCulloch was a man with a good job and prospects who wanted to get away from the life that was outside his window. However he was eventually lured away from both of these by his addiction to heroin and cocaine. Likewise his ex-wife Fran. Their son DeAndre is a part time slinger who is constantly being told that he's smart enough to attend school and do right for himself but he is unable to see past the corner which has enslaved both his parents. Around this family swirl a large cast of characters, most of whom are either drug dealers or drug users. The subject matter is a hard one. Many of the tales contained within are those of loss and hardship. Loss of family, to drugs or violence. Hardship due to being a dope fiend who can only think of his next fix and the caper that he'll need to run in order to get there, or the family who have to live for a month on a small government cheque which has to pay for clothes, food, and of course dope. However their are some rays of hope to be gleaned from this tale. Ella Thompson, a local woman who runs the rec center where the children can be children, even those who spend half their life selling drugs on the street corner. There is also the story of Blue, a man who's house has been turned into a shooting gallery and who has spent twenty years as a dope fiend but finally manages to pull himself out of the gutter. These small victories resonate hardest against the daily despair that the streets throw up. Mostly though it is a tale of people who have been forgotten about by the government and society as a whole. As anyone who has read Homicide or seen The Wire, the well loved TV series which was inspired by both Simons books, will know Simon has a very keen eye and ear for the cadance and rhythms of the street. This book is no different. It reads as though it were a fictitious tale of inner-city life and as such I often had to keep reminding myself that what I was reading wasn't made up by someone but something that had actually been witnessed. Breaking up the various tales of these people are essays by Simon and Burns on the nature of addiction, the problems with welfare and the problem with the drug trade in general. It does feel like the same point is being made over and over but when the subject matter is something as important as this then I think it's ok to keep hammering the same point home. This book would be recommended reading to anyone who has even a passing interest in the aforementioned series as well as the look at inner-city struggle and drug problems.