When America needs a reminder of what happens when violence is permitted to reseed itself in the generations of a family, they have only to read the story of Willie J. Bosket, a soul interrupted, an intelligent man imprisoned for nearly all the years of his natural existence on earth, forever branded one of New York's most infamous criminals. Readers will wonder, if there had been help earlier in Willie's life, where might his intellect have taken him?
Willie's sister Cheryl made a break from the environment in which she and Willie grew up, where killings, stabbings, muggings, and domestic violence were rampant. She made a choice, along with her husband, to trust in God and move away. Her life took a dramatic turn for the positive. Could not Willie have done the same, or was he predestined, by way of his family's history, to end up in prison?
This reissue of Butterfield's original book, All God's Children is an important read, particularly for those in the social sciences who step into roles that will require them to work with youth and families struggling under the weight of generational poverty and violence. No doubt those already working in those such careers will see in Willie Bosket's life common threads in the lives of troubled youth and dysfunctional families of today. Regardless, every reader will understand, after having read this book, that violence and racism are destructive forces, not visited only on the present. The negative aspects of them are felt even centuries later.
All God's Children was a meticulously researched book and the letters between Willie and Butch give readers an insight into the minds of both generations of men that is present in few other books of this type. Butterfield could not have done a better job unless he'd followed the generations of the Bosket family himself every day and kept an account of their every word and deed. I give Butterfield's book five stars for detail, excellent writing, structure, and choice of subject.