Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
356
Free sample

After pumping eight blasts from a sawed-off shotgun at a group of rival gang members, twelve-year-old Kody Scott was initiated into the L.A. gang the Crips. He quickly matured into one of the most formidable Crip combat soldiers, earning the name “Monster” for committing acts of brutality and violence that repulsed even his fellow gang members. When the inevitable jail term confined him to a maximum-security cell, a complete political and personal transformation followed: from Monster to Sanyika Shakur, black nationalist, member of the New Afrikan Independence Movement, and crusader against the causes of gangsterism. In a document that has been compared to The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice, Shakur makes palpable the despair and decay of America’s inner cities and gives eloquent voice to one aspect of the black ghetto experience today.


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Publisher
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Published on
Dec 1, 2007
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780802198235
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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By turns harrowing, moving, and ultimately redemptive, this is a war story -- a war that rages out of control on the streets of the United States, claiming the lives of our loved ones and neighbors. In this memoir, complete with child soldiers, unspeakable violence, and eventual salvation, we witness the journey of an East Coast member of the notorious Bloods gang coming to terms with the lost boy he was and the transformation into the man he wants to become.

Unlike the child warriors of Mozambique and Sierra Leone, gang members and the wars they wage are the United States' homegrown nightmare. Lacking protection, support, or any alternatives, Dashaun Morris is forced into battle for the first time at age eleven, in the streets of Phoenix, when a friend's older brothers put him in a car filled with 40s and weed smoke, put a gun in his hands, then make him point it at the men on the corner and squeeze the trigger. The targets are Crips, of course, and, as Morris writes, "In the darkness of the streets, my childhood is murdered.... I am reborn -- a gangster."

In this haunting, violent memoir, Morris takes us through an American childhood turned grotesquely inside out. In the fourth grade, he loses his first friend in a drive-by shooting. By high school he is the man, a champion on the football field by day and a reputable banger on his 'hood turf by night.

Living the life of a gang banger, Morris does it all -- drug dealing, jacking, and continuing the aimless war with rival gang members -- almost opening fire one night on a close friend, a cheerleader, as she hangs out with young men he mistakes for Crips.

He eventually makes it to college on a football scholarship, but on the verge of being drafted by the NFL, Morris can't escape his gang-banging mentality and gets caught up in crimes that snatch away all future hopes. Sitting in a prison cell, he anticipates the birth of his first child while counting the friends he's buried.

War of the Bloods in My Veins is part of Morris's redemption, a cry to his brothers that gang life is mental illness. It is a rare and brutally honest look into the relentless storm of abandonment, violence, crime, death, and the endless rush toward the complete and utter self-annihilation that plagues the lives of the young "soldiers" who die every day in our streets.
The historical literature of political deviance is sparse. This unusual work, chronicling the history of Jonathan Wild, represents an effort to come to terms with one of the more amazing characters of English social history. Wild was both part of the policy system in eighteenth-century England, and also one of the most adroit criminals of the age. In the 1720s, London suffered the worst crime waves in its history. Civic corruption took place on a staggering scale. The government's answer was to pay a bounty for the capture of robbers, thus creating a class of professional informers.

Wild was applauded as the most efficient thief hunter and gang breaker in British society; but his own posse of thief catchers was basically a front behind which he was able to control the underground world, through a complex system of blackmail, perjury, and terror which the book details. All who opposed him were betrayed to the law, and in the struggle for power Wild sacrificed several hundred of his own people to the hangman. No one since his time, with the exception of Lavrenti Beria of the late Stalin era GPU so nearly succeeded in bringing the underworld under the control of one system of power.

At one level, this is a biography of the world's first supercriminal. At another, it is a sociology of criminal behavior and its political consequences. Howson sheds fresh light, not only on a figure who has become famous in literature, but more important, on the entire structure of gang life. The book is written "as a "terrifying and fascinating study of a historical epoch; it also offers a completely fresh picture of the birth of modern organized-crime families as part of modern organized political systems.

A gripping tale of personal revolution by a man who went from Crips co-founder to Nobel Peace Prize nominee, author, and antigang activist

When his L.A. neighborhood was threatened by gangbangers, Stanley Tookie Williams and a friend formed the Crips, but what began as protection became worse than the original gangs. From deadly street fights with their rivals to drive-by shootings and stealing cars, the Crips' influence -- and Tookie's reputation -- began to spread across L.A. Soon he was regularly under police surveillance, and, as a result, was arrested often, though always released because the charges did not stick. But in 1981, Tookie was convicted of murdering four people and was sent to death row at San Quentin in Marin County, California.

Tookie maintained his innocence and began to work in earnest to prevent others from following his path. Whether he was creating nationwide peace protocols, discouraging adolescents from joining gangs, or writing books, Tookie worked tirelessly for the rest of his life to end gang violence. Even after his death, his legacy continues, supported by such individuals as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Snoop Dogg, Jesse Jackson, and many more.

This posthumous edition of Blue Rage, Black Redemption features a foreword by Tavis Smiley and an epilogue by Barbara Becnel, which details not only the influence of Tookie's activism but also her eyewitness account of his December 2005 execution, and the inquest that followed.

By turns frightening and enlightening, Blue Rage, Black Redemption is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and an invaluable lesson in how rage can be turned into redemption.
A New York Times Bestseller

Foreword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics

When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT--two young and ambitious men a universe apart.

"Riveting."—The New York Times

"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand."—Newsweek

"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city."—Chicago Tribune

"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart."—The Boston Globe

"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined."—The Economist

"A sensative, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype."—Finanical Times

Sudhir Venkatesh’s latest book Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy—a memoir of sociological investigation revealing the true face of America’s most diverse city—is also published by Penguin Press.


 

 

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