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Born to Kill: America's Most Notorious Vietnamese Gang and the Changing Face of Organized Crime

Born to Kill: America's Most Notorious Vietnamese Gang and the Changing Face of Organized Crime

by T. J. English

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This sociological study and true-crime expos tells of the rootless young Vietnamese males sent out of the country by their families as the Saigon regime was collapsing and, after months or years in refugee camps, placed with foster families in the U.S. Some of these youths became the nucleus of New York City's Chinatown Born to Kill gang and were as violent as their name suggests. They made money ``protecting'' merchants and through holdups and invasions of homes, and their victims were always other Asians. One of their number, Tinh Ngo, was repelled by the gang's bloodthirstiness and became a police informant. Thanks to him and to city and federal officers, seven of the gang were apprehended, tried in 1992 and given long prison sentences, the leader, David Thai, getting life. English, who previously authored The Westies, an account of Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen Irish, has hit the bulls-eye again. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Eleven-year-old Tinh Ngo left Vietnam at the instigation of his parents, who believed that his only hope for a chance in life was to reach the United States. When he arrived after spending 22 months in a Thai refugee camp, Tinh was shifted from one uncaring foster family to another. He became friends with a number of other Vietnamese males who routinely committed petty robberies. By small degrees he was led more deeply into crime, eventually joining the growing Vietnamese gang "Born To Kill." After his arrest, he began to feel trapped by the gang and to understand that his future would be either death or prison. Finally convinced to go undercover for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (AFT), Tinh reported on gang activities, allowing police and the AFT to forestall robberies and to arrest gang members. This exciting account by the author of The Westies (LJ 2/1/90) provides a vivid look at the exotic world of Asian organized crime and one young man's attempt to escape it and make an honest life for himself. The book has the dramatic force of a novel and the satisfying shape of a story well told. Recommended for all true crime collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/94.]-Ben Harrison, East Orange P.L., N.J.
Kathleen Hughes
English presents an unforgettable account of the rise and fall of a particularly vicious Asian American street gang, made up of Vietnamese refugees fresh from the brutal violence of their homeland. The gang first appeared in New York City's Chinatown in the 1980s and quickly became infamous for vicious and random acts of violence perpetrated on the merchants and citizens of Chinatown. The story unfolds slowly and suspensefully as English weaves the tale of the gang's meager beginnings, a brief but bloody reign, and an inglorious ending. A unique, insider viewpoint is provided by Tinh Ngo, a gang member who began cooperating with federal agents and eventually brought about the downfall of the gang. English, whose previous work "The Westies" is an account of the Irish mob in New York City, is familiar with the world of organized crime and a master of getting and holding the reader's attention. Although "Born to Kill" is essentially a crime story, it also explores themes of displaced humanity and unattainable American prosperity, as well as the Asian experience in America. In addition, it provides an intriguing glimpse into the historically clandestine world of organized crime in Asian American society.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.39(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.14(d)

Meet the Author

T.J. ENGLISH is a noted journalist, screenwriter and author of four books, including Paddy Whacked, Born to Kill (which was nominated for an Edgar Award), and the upcoming The Havana Mob. His first book, The Westies (a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book), launched his career as an expert on the multi-ethnic nature of organized crime in America. A former writer for Irish America Magazine, English has also been published in Esquire, Playboy and New York magazine. He lives in New York City.

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