DO OR DIE by Leon Bing


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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.''

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-016326-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991


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