Bad Guys: America's Most Wanted in Their Own Words

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9780684810027: Bad Guys: America's Most Wanted in Their Own Words

BAD GUYS Bad Guys is a chilling look at the world of crime -- from burglar to drug smuggler, from small-time hustler to full-time scam artist -- told in the words of America's most wanted themselves. Young and old, male and female, career criminal and joyrider, bad guys tell their stories in voices that reveal the full range of emotions, from pride and regret to anger and shame, and even humor. (There's an irresistible account of a robbery gone so awry that the stick-up man has to hail a taxi to try to flee the crime scene.)

The criminals Mark Baker has interviewed for this book talk candidly about how they started on a life of crime, what their lives are like day-to-day (they talk, for example, about the mechanics of money laundering, planning a robbery, manufacturing fake drugs, and so forth), and the often brutal rituals of life in prison, where most career criminals eventually find themselves.

Bad Guys is gritty, compelling, and inimitably authentic. These are stories that take us inside a shadowy world that surrounds us, day and night, but which we seldom see until the terrifying moments that we become crime victims ourselves.

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From the Publisher:

They lie, steal, kill and destroy. Cops chase them, Hollywood glamorizes them, and shrinks try to figure them out. Now, America's bad guys tell their own stories, from their childhoods to how they chose their victims to how they survive in prison. Mark Baker, the bestselling author of Nam and Cops, has gone behind the lines to find out why today's criminals started and why they won't stop. Their gritty, compelling tales are sometimes shocking, sometimes funny, and always bad to the bone.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Career criminals telling their stories, wiseguy-style. Baker, author of Cops (1985), here turns his attention to those on the other side of the bars. None of the interviewees is a famous con; these are run-of-the-mill junkies, thieves, and dealers who can't seem to stay out of jail. Longtime hood Murray claims ``in prison, I read a book a night,'' though others grow increasingly violent: one brags, ``I stabbed a guy the first two weeks I was in prison.''The overriding theme, Baker observes, is that nearly all of them can pinpoint the single act that pushed them irrevocably into criminal life; no one whines about his fate or blames anyone but himself. Their voices can be plaintive, as when one woman describes her efforts to get her children to write to her, or when a young tough is horrified to learn the kids he beat up because they ignored him were deaf, or when one man simply pines for a ``center cut pork chop.'' Baker doesn't pretend to have any insight into why wealthy Charlotte wrote so many bad checks or why Howard turned his back on a loving family; the author focuses on balancing the hijinks of one speaker with the absolute pathos of the next. In the end, it seems, most of these career criminals resign themselves to life in prison, where the thievery doesn't stop (one resident of ``Club Fed'' describes the trafficking of tennis strings) and walls don't get any bigger. ``My release date is July 14, 2005,'' muses one inmate. ``That's a Buck Rogers date.'' Well-observed and at times depraved, this is a unique account of the current prison population. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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