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An experienced reporter who has gained the trust of both sides of L.A.'s notorious gang wars offers an inside look at how children become murderers and why gangs replace families
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Unprecedented, in-your-face report on L.A. street gangs. The grim world that fashion-model-turned-journalist Bing (Harper's, L.A. Weekly) limns here has little of the romance of such Hollywood variants as Colors; in fact, as G-roc, Bing's main informant, says, ``That movie just made up a lotta bullshit.'' Here, instead, the portrait is down and dirty and true as Bing lets gang members speak for themselves and at length, weaving their stories together with a lively scene-setting narrative that reveals her deep caring for these violent youths. Bing alternates interviews with kids jailed at youth ``camps,'' and later at Soledad Prison, with ones drawn from the mean streets of South Central L.A., and sifts into the stories a history of the gangs (begun in the late 1960's by one Raymond Washington, who organized ``a little gang of kids'' at Fremont High School that metastasized into today's sprawling cancer of 37 Blood ``sets'' and 57 Crip sets --Bloods and Crips being deadly enemies--with membership numbering in the many thousands). While the testimonies Bing elicits are always fascinating--shocking in their embrace of violence (asked for good reasons to kill, gang members answer, ``For the way he walk''; ``Cause he called me a baboon--dis' me''; ``Cause he fucked up my hair in the barbershop'') and frightening for the deep alienation they reveal--they exhibit a cumulatively numbing sameness. However, Bing's climactic interview, with imprisoned legendary ``gangbanger'' Monster Kody, provocatively freshens the text as Kody's highly political words (``My real enemy--The United States Government. That's who controls the Crips, the Bloods, and me'') indicate that today's gang member may be tomorrow's radical. Sobering, noteworthy dispatches from a urban inferno that's so without pity as to prompt one of Bing's subjects, age 17, to conclude, ``I tell you this--you seen enough dyin', then you ready to die yourself, just so you don't have to see no more of death.'' -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
Bing is a gutsy reporter. For the past four years, she has been reporting on gang life in the Los Angeles area for the L.A. Weekly and apparently has gained the complete trust of the two major gangs, the "Crips" and the "Bloods." She tells the story of individual gang members, such as G-Roc, Baby Track, and Bianca, real people caught up in an astonishing real war occurring daily in California. The common elements running through all their stories are poverty, lack of family cohesion, lack of societal and individual respect, and drugs. This is not an in-depth sociological study, attempting to find the roots of "gang life," but rather a very colorful portrait of a disturbing subculture. It belongs in comprehensive collections of studies of gang life. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/91.
- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Harpercollins. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0060163267. Seller Inventory # A28-253F
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