As we all know, there's drug dealing on the streets of most major (and many minor) cities in America. This book watches what happens in one such "drug market" in the mid-1990s, and the impact living in that society has on the people living there.
I found the book to be beyond depressing. It depressed me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, reading about seemingly nice people (and some iffier ones) being brought low by drugs isn't fun, I don't think, if you've got any ability to empathise with people. Secondly, I got depressed by (and angry at) the police. With the exception of a couple "beat cops," they didn't seem willing to do anything more than the most basic and rudimentary policing, and that's not what we pay our taxes for.
The other thing that it brought home to me is what John Edwards (the former US Presidential candidate) called the "Two Americas." I work in America for a good chunk of each year, and I was surprised and disgusted by the America I read in this book. I mean, we all know that drug dealing occurs, but a 24/7 open air drug market on the streets of Baltimore? Disgusting.
This is an interesting book. You'll get depressed by it, but it might open some people's eyes too.