Cross and the Switchblade – Run Baby Run

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The Cross and the Switchblade by Reverend David Wilkerson with John and Elizabeth Sherrill. Spire Books, 1963, 1980 publishing. Run Baby Run, by Nicky Cruz with Jamie Buckingham. Pyramid Books, T-2066, 1968, 1970 publishing. Both books have had many different covers, the one I had in high school of Run Baby Run was different, and I liked it better. Here’s that one. I also had comic books of both, if I find them I’ll post them. And I’ll post a Cross and the Switchblade movie poster also.

In the 1950s, Reverend David Wilkerson was a preacher in small town Pennsylvania. He saw a photo in Life magazine about some New York City gang members on trial for murder. The eyes of the kid spoke to him, so he just went to NYC, and tried to get into the trial to speak to the kid. This bursting into a court room got his photo in the paper, and he thought made him look like a fool. He was sleeping in his car on the streets and runs into some urchins and they recognize him from the newspaper. This gets him “in” (what he thought was a bad thing turned into a good thing) and he is introduced to various gangs and tries convert them. Somehow he makes headway with a young killer named Nicky Cruz. These books present the story from the view of the preacher Wilkerson, and the gang leader Cruz. I prefer the Run Baby Run story, it is more graphic and from the inside. Quite a story. Wilkerson stayed in NYC working with junkies and gangs through the 1970s (and maybe longer) and wrote several more books. The next best one is probably Purple Violet Squish. Great name for a band. (There’s also a David R. Wilkerson who writes Christian books, but is not the same guy)


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