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Book Launch: The Year of Dangerous Days: Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980, by Nicholas Griffin

Americas Society / Council of the Americas

October 7, 2020


In collaboration with:

AS/COA, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and Gustavo A. Cisneros invite you to the virtual book launch of The Year of Dangerous Days: Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980. Journalist and author Nicholas Griffin will be interviewed by Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.

Griffin’s latest book is the harrowing story of how Miami survived 1980, when the city faced race riots, a burgeoning refugee crisis, and the explosion of the cocaine industry––all during an already turbulent election year.

Note: This event is complimentary. Prior registration is required.


  • Nicholas Griffin, Journalist and Author
  • Alberto Ibargüen, President and CEO, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Former Publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald (interviewer)

About the book:

In the tradition of The Wire, the harrowing story of the cinematic transformation of one of America’s most bustling cities—rife with a drug epidemic, a burgeoning refugee crisis, and police brutality—from journalist and award-winning author Nicholas Griffin.

Miami, Florida, famed for its blue skies and sandy beaches, is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations, with nearly 23 million tourists visiting annually. But few people have any idea how this unofficial capital of Latin America came to be.

The Year of Dangerous Days is a fascinating chronicle of a pivotal but forgotten year in U.S. history. With a cast that includes iconic characters such as Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, and Janet Reno, this slice of history is brought to life through intertwining personal stories. At the core, there’s Edna Buchanan, a reporter for The Miami Herald who breaks the story on the wrongful murder of a black man and the police cover-up; Captain Marshall Frank, the hardboiled homicide detective tasked with investigating the murder; and Mayor Maurice Ferré, the charismatic politician who watches the case, and the city, fall apart.

On a roller coaster of national politics and international diplomacy, these three figures cross paths as their city explodes in one of the worst race riots in U.S. history as more than 120,000 Cuban refugees land south of Miami and drug cartels flood the city with cocaine and infiltrate all levels of law enforcement. In a battle of wills, Buchanan has to keep up with the 150 percent murder rate increase, Captain Frank has to scrub and rebuild his homicide bureau, and Mayor Ferré must find a way to reconstruct his smoldering city. Against all odds, they persevere, and a stronger, more vibrant Miami begins to emerge. But the foundation of this new Miami—partially built on corruption and drug money—will have severe ramifications for the rest of the country.

Deeply researched and covering many timely issues including police brutality, immigration, and the drug crisis, The Year of Dangerous Days is both a clarion call and a recreation story of one of America’s most iconic cities.

Event Information: Guillermo Zubillaga | | 1-212-277-8362
Sponsorship Opportunities: Ana Calderon | | 1-212-277-8358
Individual Membership Information: Lee Evans | | 1-212-277-8384
COA Corporate Membership: Mila Fontana | | 1-212-277-8331
Note: View a list of COA corporate members.
Press Inquiries:

Nicholas Griffin

Journalist and Author

Nicholas Griffin is a journalist and author of four novels and three works of nonfiction. His writing has appeared in The Times (London), the Financial Times, and Foreign Policy, among other publications. His book Ping-Pong Diplomacy was shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He lives in Miami with his wife and two children.

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lberto Ibargüen

President and CEO, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

lberto Ibargüen is the president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities in the United States. The Knight Foundation grants are strategically focused on promoting a more effective democracy through support of journalism and media innovation, arts and culture in community, and community engagement. He is the former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.

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Video: Book Launch - The Year of Dangerous Days: Riots, Refugees, and Cocaine in Miami 1980, by Nicholas Griffin

October 07, 2020

"It's one of those books that, in one sitting, gives you the foundation for the city you thought you knew," said Knight Foundation's Alberto Ibargüen to Griffin....