Donald W. Tucker’s book The Two-Edged Sword is a story of one man’s journey from the Southside of Chicago to U.S. Marshall for the District of Arizona. His personal tale is exemplified by this early passage in which he visits a school in Phoenix where he is to “light a fire under inner city kids and let them know the best way to get on their feet is to get off their asses.”
In his book Tucker expertly “tells it like is” as he takes the reader on a trip through what becomes an illustrious career in federal law enforcement.
“Writing the autobiography reminded me of things I had done 40 or 50 years and exactly how tough things were,” Tucker said during a telephone interview from a New York City hotel. “Writing the book was therapeutic.”
His book has been referred to as “grim,” however that description totally misses the point. Tucker’s story is triumphant. It speaks to the courage and determination of an individual who, despite incredible odds, made it in an America where poverty, Jim Crow plus covert and overt racism conspired against African Americans. These diseases of our society broke him down on several occasions but his is a well-written story of perseverance.
Tucker should be celebrated for his honesty. His career seemed unblemished. He achieved heights that were almost unimaginable to a child reared in the Chicago ghetto. Rather than boast about a life well-lived Tucker takes us on a rollercoaster ride where we feel his angst as he encounters numerous obstacles as he slowly rises through the ranks of one of this nation’s most prestigious law enforcement agencies the United States Secret Service.
His life story begins on Chicago’s Southside Ghetto where he and five brothers shared a one bedroom apartment.
“My mom and dad were people of strong moral fiber,” Tucker explained.
Although he was from an extremely modest beginning, young Donald Tucker parlayed his outstanding athletic ability into a football scholarship to the University of Iowa where he was a star player. Injuries finally put an end to his dreams of becoming a professional athlete and the newly minted graduate returned to his home town where he began a career in law enforcement as an agent for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) the forebear of today’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The double standard in U.S. government law enforcement was evident from the beginning, Tucker recalls in the book. Untrained and totally naïve, the rookie was sent into what can only be called dangerous and life-threatening situations throughout the seedy underbelly of the city of his birth. As he and the few other African Americans were hired as what amounted to be temporary “show us what you’ve got” positions, far less qualified whites were given permanent positions. Whites were given assignments that were far more glamorous and less dangerous that the black agents also. Tucker found himself on the streets posing as a hustler sitting in undesirable dumps attempting to score drugs while his white colleagues wore suits and ties sat in offices and “handled’ informants.
Tucker says he hopes that although his story is that of a grandfather figure for today’s youth they will get some inspiration and hope from the book.
“I think the book can be an instrument for young minorities,” Tucker explained. “Although my career was successful there were some cobblestones in the road. It should be apparent to our children that no matter what position you obtain in this country you are still going to be considered a “nigger” in the eyes of some people. People will always look at you differently. If young people read the book they should know that life and the pursuit of a career, even a successful career, is not going to be all peaches and cream.”