The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jeffrey Hobbs's The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jeffrey Hobbs

Jeff Hobbs studied English literature at Yale University, and graduated in 2002. He won several important writing prizes for undergraduate work, including the Willets Prize for fiction. After graduating, Hobbs lived in Tanzania and worked for the African Rainforest Conservancy. His first novel, the story of four recent Yale graduates called The Tourists, came out in 2007, and became a national bestseller. In 2014, he published his first work of nonfiction, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace. The book was critically acclaimed, and won several prizes. Hobbs lives in Los Angeles with his wife.
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Historical Context of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The book discusses the city of Newark, New Jersey from the 1970s to the 2000s. Around the time of the Newark riots of 1967, many affluent white families began to leave the city of Newark and live in suburban areas instead. The city lost a lot of its funding, the police force became more brutal, and crime rose. In the ‘80s, the crack epidemic began, and many working-class African Americans in Newark began dealing drugs, in many cases because doing so was the best way of making a living. Crime and drug use in Newark began to fall in the mid-2000s, under the leadership of Mayor Cory Booker. However, crime escalated again after the Great Recession of 2008.

Other Books Related to The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is one of many books about the quintessential American theme of self-reinvention. The most famous exploration of this theme is probably F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925). Norman Podhoretz’s memoir Making It (1967), another story about a brilliant kid from a crime-ridden city who reinvents himself as an Ivy League prodigy, at times evokes a tone similar to that of Hobbs’s book. Readers are also encouraged to watch the HBO show The Wire, which the journalist Brett Martin called one of the great literary achievements of the 21th century. Like Hobbs’s book, The Wire studies the struggle of working-class African Americans to achieve respectability, and it takes a pessimistic and even tragic view of their chances of success.
Key Facts about The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
  • Full Title: The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League
  • When Written: 2011-2014
  • Where Written: New York, Connecticut, and Tanzania
  • When Published: Fall 2011
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Setting: Newark, New Jersey; New Haven, Connecticut; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Climax: The murder of Robert Peace
  • Antagonist: Poverty, crime, and racism could all be considered antagonists of this story
  • Point of View: First person (Jeff Hobbs), although the first half of the book is essentially narrated in the third person omniscient

Extra Credit for The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

A last memory. As a sign of his love for and friendship with Robert Peace, Jeff Hobbs gave his baby son the middle name “Peace.”

Alma mater. Since the publication of Hobbs’s book, a scholarship fund has been established at Robert Peace’s alma mater, St. Benedict’s Prep. The scholarship, paid for with proceeds from Hobbs’s book, is intended for young men who exemplify Robert’s talent, enthusiasm, and curiosity.