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Chinese Playground: A Memoir

Lee, Bill

Published by Rhapsody Press, 1999
ISBN 10: 0967002303 / ISBN 13: 9780967002309
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Bibliographic Details


Title: Chinese Playground: A Memoir

Publisher: Rhapsody Press

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket

Edition: 1st Edition.

Description:

San Francisco. 1999. Rhapsody Press. 1st Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 277 pages. hardcover. Inscribed by The Author. 0967002303. keywords: Autobiography Chinese San Francisco. inventory # 26616. FROM THE PUBLISHER - This stark and unsentimental recollection of childhood and coming of age in the back alleys and bustling streets of San Francisco's Chinatown reveals the sinister and pervasive influences of organized crime. Delivering an almost-casual exposé into the underworld of an urban Chinatown, Chinese Playground: A Memoir traces author Bill Lee's maturation from innocent child in a troubled family to a street punk, gang member, and college graduate struggling to break free of his involvement in escalating violence. In a dark journey spanning forty years, Lee fights an ongoing battle against relentless childhood demons and nightmares, acknowledging a spiritual guardian throughout his life, ultimately coming to terms with his past and peace with himself. Lee's personal accounts of two high-profile murder incidents are engrossing. The 1977 Golden Dragon Massacre in San Francisco that left five dead and eleven wounded, was carried out by his blood-brothers who were engaged in the most violent Asian gang war in U.S. history. A decade later, a mad gunman killed seven and injured four at ESL, a high-tech firm in Sunnyvale, California where Lee was employed. An unlikely hero emerges as he accepts his fate, employing his street instincts to save co-workers during the murderous rampage. Startling details on both crimes are revealed for the first time. A moving look at the murky histories of Lee's parents-both Chinese immigrants-adds depth to this story and poignantly points to typical family dysfunctions that contribute to confusion, fear and aggression in young people. The author's early recollections are seen through the eyes of an innocent boy who was nearly aborted and sold away. As a young gang member, his pain and fears are hidden beneath a tough, macho facade as he contends with gambling, drugs, extortion and murder. Entering adulthood, Lee's street savvy and dark view of the world manifests itself into an aggressive, win-at-any-costs attitude which he unleashes in Silicon Valley. Lee faces his biggest challenge when he returns to the streets of Chinatown in search of his runaway son and confronts his own dark past. Lee's determination to nurture his soul and transform his life is inspiring. This true story is a provocative read providing valuable insight into the Chinese-American culture, organized crime, distressed families, at-risk youths, personal recovery, Bay Area history, and Silicon Valley. Bookseller Inventory # 26616

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Synopsis: This startling and unsentimental recollection of childhood and coming of age in the back alleys and bustling streets of San Francisco's Chinatown reveals the sinister and pervasive influences of organized crime. Delivering an almost-casual expose into the underworld of an urban Chinatown, "Chinese Playground: A Memoir" traces author Bill Lee's maturation from innocent child in a troubled family to a street punk, gang member, and college graduate struggling to break free of his involvement in escalating violence. In a dark journey spanning forty years, Lee fights an ongoing battle against relentless childhood demons and nightmares, ultimately coming to terms with his past and peace with himself.

Lee's personal accounts of two high-profile murder incidents are engrossing. The 1977 Golden Dragon Massacre in San Francisco that left five dead and eleven wounded, was carried out by his blood-brothers who were engaged in the most violent Asian gang war in U.S. history. A decade later, a mad gunman killed seven and injured four at ESL, a high-tech firm in Sunnyvale, California where Lee was employed. An unlikely hero emerges as he accepts his fate, employing his street instincts to save co-workers during the murderous rampage.

A moving look at the murky histories of Lee's parents -- both Chinese immigrants -- adds depth to this story and poignantly points to typical family dysfunctions that contribute to confusion, fear and aggression in young people. The author's early recollections are seen through the eyes of an innocent boy who was nearly aborted and sold away. As a young gang member, his pain and fears are hidden beneath a tough, macho facade as he contends with gambling, drugs, extortion and murder. Entering adulthood, Lee's street savvy and dark view of the world manifests itself into an aggressive, win-at-any-costs attitude which he unleashes in Silicon Valley. Lee faces his biggest challenge when he returns to the streets of Chinatown in search of his runaway son and confronts his own dark past. Lee's determination to heal his soul and transform his life is inspiring.

This book is a provocative read providing valuable insight into the Chinese-American culture, organized crime, distressed families, at-risk youths, personal recovery, Bay Area history, and Silicon Valley.

From the Publisher: Reviews:

A.Magazine, June/July, 1999 issue:
Chinatown gangsters have long been glamorized on screen for the American imagination. But Bill Lee's Chinese Playground: A Memoir, which exposes the raw underbelly of Chinese American culture, is the real McCoy. ...His scenes dealing with gang warfare are brutal, yet fascinating. ...Deftly written... [it] is a well-formed tale of history and survival.

KPIX-TV, May 30, 1999:
Riveting...the story is told in a refreshingly honest way.

San Francisco Chronicle, Bill Wallace, May 2, 1999:
...offers something that few other volumes on Asian organized crimes and gangs do: a personal, first-hand look at what it is like to grow up in the youth gang subculture. That alone makes it remarkable among recent nonfiction works about the activities of the Chinese underworld, and a worthwhile read...

San Francisco Examiner, Julie Chao, March 9, 1999:
...provides the first insider look into the lethal mix of youthful bravado, cultural maladjustment and turf warfare that culminated in the 1977 shootout at the Golden Dragon restaurant, one of the worst mass killings in San Francisco history.

About.com, Jim Shan, June 16, 1999:
...provides valuable insight into cross-cultural tensions, some factors of driving children to join gangs, and the Chinese underworld. There is an old Chinese saying, 'family's scandal does not go out.' This old saying is deeply rooted in Chinese culture so Chinese usually keep things inside themselves as much as possible. Lee's courage to write such a book to let people know the Chinese underworld is remarkable.

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