THE DREAM SHATTERED: Vietnamese Gangs in America by Patrick with Laura Ricard Du Phuoc Long

THE DREAM SHATTERED: Vietnamese Gangs in America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This examination of the rise of Vietnamese youth gangs relies heavily on Du Phuoc Long's work as a juvenile rehabilitation counselor in Santa Clara County, Calif. Despite such rough names as Asian Kicking Asses, Oriental Boyz, and Action Packed Vietnamese, these gangs have become highly sophisticated. With networks reaching from New York to Hawaii, their illegal operations include computer technology theft, credit-card counterfeiting, money laundering, and international drug trafficking. With the help of writer Ricard, Du Phuoc Long records firsthand accounts of robbery, extortion, rape, assault, and murder. The gang members are the children of three waves of ""boat people"": The first began to arrive in the US in 1975. According to Long, ""the earliest refugees belonged to an educated elite."" Their adjustment to and acceptance by American society has not been entirely successful, but they have fared better than the second (1977-85) and third waves (1985 to the present), which were comprised of uneducated farmers and fishermen. Many who came in recent years were orphaned, often abused, Amerasian children, an unwanted legacy of the American presence in Vietnam. As Du Phuoc Long makes clear, Vietnamese teens join gangs for much the same reasons as other underprivileged juveniles: ""shortcomings"" in the home environment, lack of interest in and problems at school, alienation from the dominant culture, peer pressure. Although California's ""last chance ranches""--minimum security facilities in bucolic settings that emphasize meaningful work and training--are under fire politically, the author points to their success and argues for them as a cautious hope for the future. Unfortunately, the author's material on gang members is largely anecdotal, and he has ""altered details and rearranged facts,"" creating composite characters and conversations. Given such sketchy and unverifiable material, this book will garner little understanding for a growing problem.

Pub Date: Dec. 8th, 1995
ISBN: 1555533140
Page count: 246pp
Publisher: Northeastern Univ.