• The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

  • A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League
  • By: Jeff Hobbs
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (2,839 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $22.67

Buy for $22.67

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets - and of one's own nature - when he returns home.

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn't get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting" in Yale, and at home.

Through an honest rendering of Robert's relationships - with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers - The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It's about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds - the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It's about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It's about reaching one's greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It's about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.

©2014 Simon & Schuster Audio (P)2014 Jeff Hobbs

What listeners say about The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,807
  • 4 Stars
    731
  • 3 Stars
    243
  • 2 Stars
    41
  • 1 Stars
    17
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,627
  • 4 Stars
    648
  • 3 Stars
    225
  • 2 Stars
    48
  • 1 Stars
    14
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,725
  • 4 Stars
    583
  • 3 Stars
    193
  • 2 Stars
    45
  • 1 Stars
    13

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I've Heard This Before

I had such high hopes for this book based on the description and reviews and couldn't wait to read it. Wow, was I ever disappointed.

The story itself was not unique; we've heard it before. There are other stories about people who faced similar or worse challenges and made it; unlike Rob, those people didn't have the luxury of a benefactor who gave him a blank check for his education. I could not engage with the main character the way he was depicted: mean to his girlfriends, made $100,000 in tax-free illegal money in college, trying to trick a close friend into illegal gun dealing, dealing drugs, etc. While he was good to his mother and friends, and no doubt extremely intelligent, I just could not get past the other things. It really is too bad that he didn't use his intelligence to benefit people; with his math/science abilities, he could have done some real good for society.

The other issue I had with the book was that it was way too long. This is a book about Rob, not about the author's wedding, their inability to conceive, or his publishing struggles. There were also characters who were not integral to the story and could easily have been left out. Due to this, I found the book very tedious at times and was often tempted to just quit. However, I persevered, waiting for the book to blow me away like it had with others......that just didn't happen for me. While there were thought provoking issues to ponder, this just wasn't the book to bring them to the forefront.

140 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful, elegiac remembrance of a friend

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not possible, but yes.

Any additional comments?

Gorgeously written, deeply felt memoir of the author's Yale roommate, the ironically named Robert Peace. Whether he was 'Newark-proofing' himself as DeShaun or 'fronting' as Yalie Rob, Peace was a brilliant, engaging, profoundly conflicted young man. Author Jeff Hobbs writes as though he were born to tell his friend's story. The narrator George Newbern is one of the best I've heard on Audible. No embellishments; just a real understanding of and appreciation for the author's prose.

55 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Heartbreaking

It's hard not to get hooked into Robert Peace's story, which is so well-written by his friend Jeff Hobbs and performed so elegantly by George Newbern. Even knowing how it'll all end, based on the book's subtitle, you can't help but hope that the brilliant, loyal, but conflicted Peace will still somehow turn it all around. This is very compelling narrative nonfiction, and I'll be looking for more of Newbern's narrations in the future.

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Everyone Should Read this Book

What made the experience of listening to The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace the most enjoyable?

Robert Peace, the main character, is charismatic, driven, focused, and flawed. HIs should've been a life of steady ascension, despite a tough start in life, and instead he ended up driving in literal circles. The book functions not only as a tale of triumph and loss, but also as an object lesson in the problems poor kids face in improving their status/lot in life. And the book does it without wallowing, and in beautiful prose that sidles up to poetry.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace?

There was no single moment: as this tale is a series of small moments, of how tiny hiccups--which would be totally surmountable by the middle class, and even the lower middle class--are the stuff that derails lives and destroys opportunities, for those who live below the poverty line. But it is not all tragic, in it, Robert's extraordinariness shines through and there joy he experienced in his life is conveyed here too.

Have you listened to any of George Newbern’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I thought he was wonderful, really excellent. The quality of this narration would make me seek out his other projects.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I only stopped because I fell asleep.

Any additional comments?

I think anyone who is curious about why poverty is ingrained as a seeming unovercomable obstacle in this country should read this book.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A young man with no redeeming qualities

Let me start by saying that I thought the narration was quite good, and the author did a fine job writing this biography. However, it became apparent fairly early on in this book that there was going to be no silver lining or real moral. Which makes me wonder why the author felt that this was a story worth telling. There are plenty of tragic stories out there that would be of more benefit and worthwhile to readers. Robert Peace goes from making one shockingly bad decision to another, no matter how many chances he is given. The best description of him in the book is from the author's speculation as to what one woman in Rob's life might think if she knew what he was up to. Specifically, that he is "selfish, arrogant, and stupid." Bingo. Apart from trying to help his parents, everything Rob does is deeply selfish, which makes the author's attempt to introduce narratives at the end of the novel to suggest Rob was somehow a good role model, at least part of the time, an unsupportable assertion. His mother, Jackie, is just about the only person in this biography that I can muster any respect for. I would've been much more interested in reading about her life, and I'm sure it would've been a more rewarding experience for readers.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Powerful Narrative Nonfiction

The story of Robert Peace is both heartbreaking and compelling. Written in narrative nonfiction style by Rob’s former Yale roommate Jeff Hobbs, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace documents the life of a brilliant and big-hearted young man that rises from poverty to graduate from the Ivy League – only to struggle to shake the anchor that binds him to the streets of Newark. While the book’s outcome is a given from the title, the gripping narrative voiced by George Newbern leaves you helplessly rooting for Rob throughout every stage.

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible! Could not stop listening....

What did you love best about The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace?

I loved the writing, and how it felt as if you had a seat next to Rob and his friends and family.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rob's Mom, for her strength and dignity.

What does George Newbern bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

A great story teller! Very easy to listen to his tale.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Every chapter had a moment, the whole life of Rob is an incredible journey.

Any additional comments?

I was stunned how his life ended.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

What did you love best about The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace?

"The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace" is a tremendous accomplishment. I offer my deepest gratitude to Jeff Hobbs for his unflinching narrative and devotion to detail. Though I cannot agree with the brief criticism (inconsiderable, in my opinion, set side by side with the scope of this work), The New York Times' Anand Giridharadas wrote the following of the book, perhaps the closest and best encapsulation I've found: "It deserves a turn in the nation’s pulpit from which it can beg us to see the third world America in our midst. Robert Peace, who called his mother “my heart,” was her only and beloved son. But he was our son, too. We are the wondrous country that made him a Yale man. We are the wanting country where even that wasn’t enough to spare him."

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I'm obviously in the minority here...

Any additional comments?

I had to force myself to finish this book. Once it's revealed that it is Rob's college roommate writing the book, it seemed to me it became very much NOT about Robert Peace, but about Jeff Hobbs and the fact that he knew Robert Peace. I found the writing incredibly self-indulgent and, in parts, the details he chooses to include are just ridiculous. Not only would people he interviewed NOT have been able to provide what Robert Peace was thinking at that particular moment, CERTAINLY Jeff Hobbs cannot presume to know. I would love to know what Robert Peace would think of this book.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I wanted this to be fiction.

Very quickly I became attached to Robert/DeShaun. I cheered for his victories and marveled at that huge brain. About halfway into the book, I hoped the word "tragic" was some kind of trickery on the author's part. I was so engrossed in Robert's world and I desperately wanted him to succeed. I couldn't wait to hit 'play' and find out what he was doing. And yet the word "tragic" kept nagging at me.

This is a great book - but not because of the writing. I'd say the writing is perfectly adequate with a few too many cliches thrown in. What makes this a great book is the heartfelt thought and insight that went into the book and the great man about whom it was written. I felt like it was a bit of a love story written for a friend. In that regard it soars.

I'm so glad I listened to this book. I'm not sure anything else has ever shown just how powerful the pull of surroundings can be. And yet ... I wanted a fairy tale ending. There just are no easy answers - no one line fixes. It's been hours since I finished the book and yet I can't stop thinking about Robert and his particular situation.

As to the narration, I thought the book deserved better. It's listenable, but could have been SO much better.

14 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Emily Marbach
  • Emily Marbach
  • 10-11-15

Haunting Story

I loved this book. I learned a lot about checking one's white privilege. I think the story was well written, well paced and gripping till the end.
The reader was really good but there were a few mispronounced words like "affluent" which was used quite a few times. I'm surprised when the editors, in this digital age, don't catch these mistakes.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Alicia Carter
  • Alicia Carter
  • 07-18-17

Solid book

I would recommend this book. It was well written and structure. It was obvious a lot of detailed and empathetic research went into the many individual detailed accounts. The story was intriguing but I felt the author's bias caused a failure to adequately highlight the fact that a lot of Rob's problems were self-inflicted. I did appreciate the well depicted contrast of the two worlds Rob found himself in as well as the constant tragedy Rob faced everyday switching between the two worlds, never able to fully commit to either his past with family, friends and familiarity or his new world of potential. Overall a solid book I enjoyed listening to, thank you.

.