S Street Rising by Ruben Castaneda is at least five different books, all for the price of one. It is a score-settling D.C. memoir by a veteran Washington Post reporter; a well-reported account of a particular corner of the Washington neighborhood of Shaw; an urban noir thriller with betrayal and high-level criminality; a love letter to the reporter’s favorite source, a Metropolitan Police Department officer who commanded the city’s homicide unit during the drug wars; and—most marketably—it is the memoir of a crack addict, complete with rock-bottom-to-redemption narrative arc.
In a long piece that ran this weekend, Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe tells the story of Robert Carlson, a soldier who, in 2012, having beaten his wife late at night during an alcohol-fueled argument, then fired numerous rounds from a pistol at police cars approaching his house.
Carlson was eventually sentenced to eight years in a military prison for what he did that night. Much of Jaffe’s piece is spent detailing mitigating circumstances for Carlson’s actions—in particular his multiple combat tours, his harrowing experiences during them, and a diagnosis of PTSD that his defense team made heavy use of during the trial. Writes Jaffe: