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A disturbing yet necessary, significant book by a journalist willing to place himself in danger.

The bloody history of a violent Bronx-based gang in the middle of the crack epidemic.

Journalist Green (Murder in the High Himalaya: Loyalty, Tragedy, and Escape from Tibet, 2010) initially focuses on the Bronx during the 1980s and ’90s, digging deep to explain how it became infested with gang-related shootings and a massive wave of deadly drug abuse. The author then moves the narrative into the present, explaining why crime has returned to the Bronx in full force after a temporary reduction. Although the saga is populated by a variety of vivid characters, Green emphasizes the importance of winning the trust of two veteran New York City policemen, John O’Malley and Pete Forcelli, and two lifelong Bronx-based criminals with experience inside the gang known as Sex Money Murder. Though the African-American gangsters, Pipe and Suge, felt no reason to trust Green, a white man with a British accent, they reluctantly met with him at the behest of O’Malley and Forcelli, who had helped bring them to justice and then encouraged them to leave their lives of crime. (Pipe mostly succeeded in becoming a law-abiding citizen, while Suge mostly failed.) The author realized the difficulties inherent in verifying much of what he heard from the gang members, and he labored mightily for confirmation by checking court records, police reports, and photographs as well as by interviewing prosecutors and defense lawyers. The bloodiness of the SMM–related crimes, as well as the lack of contrition from Suge, Pipe, and their cohorts, may turn off some readers, but Green’s insights into a culture unavailable to most readers are invaluable. As the author writes, “just north of my Manhattan apartment was a world as dangerous as any I had experienced as a journalist reporting in the favelas of Brazil, the garrisons of Kingston, Jamaica, or the killing fields of Colombia.”

A disturbing yet necessary, significant book by a journalist willing to place himself in danger.

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-24448-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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