Do or Die: For the First Time, Members of America's Most Notorious Teenage Gangs-the Crips and the Bloods-speak for themselves

Overview

Do or Die is the first insider account of teenage gangs—the lives, loves, and battles of children who kill—from the only journalist ever allowed inside this closed and dangerous world.

This is no West Side Story. Welcome to a world where teenagers wear colostomy bags and have scrapbooks filled with funeral invitations; where a young man, after being shot in the chest, drives himself to the hospital; where another youngster, caught in crossfire, uses his girlfriend as a human ...

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Overview

Do or Die is the first insider account of teenage gangs—the lives, loves, and battles of children who kill—from the only journalist ever allowed inside this closed and dangerous world.

This is no West Side Story. Welcome to a world where teenagers wear colostomy bags and have scrapbooks filled with funeral invitations; where a young man, after being shot in the chest, drives himself to the hospital; where another youngster, caught in crossfire, uses his girlfriend as a human shield; where teenage gangsters are kidnapped, tortured, and held for six-figure ransoms; where kids hum the latest movie's theme music while killing people. It's a world of clickheads, sherms, bangers, ballers, and mummyheads; a world where the strongest feelings of family come from other gang members; a world where the most potent feelings of self-worth come from murder.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
Shocking.
Los Angeles Times
Fascinating and frightening.
New York Times Book Review
Poignant.
Chicago Tribune
Ambitious and provocative.
Houston Chronicle
The testimonies Bing elicits are always fascinating [as she] lets gang members speak for themselves and at length, weaving together their stories with scene-setting narrative that reveals her deep caring for these violent youths.
Digby Diehl
The most vivid and insightful investigation any reporter has made into gang life. This is the human face behind the tragic headlines, a sad, honestly reported story of kids at war with themselves. —Playboy
New York Times
Poignant.
Los Angeles Times
Fascinating and frightening.
Chicago Tribune
Ambitious and provocative.
Houston Chronicle
The testimonies Bing elicits are always fascinating [as she] lets gang members speak for themselves and at length, weaving together their stories with scene-setting narrative that reveals her deep caring for these violent youths.
San Francisco Chronicle
Shocking.
Vogue
A powerful portrait of life on the streets.
Entertainment Weekly
Bing is a reporter of remarkable vividness and subtlety ... passionately objective . . . a remarkable, compellingly readable piece of reporting.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060922917
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1992
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 546,523
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Read an Excerpt

One

Camp Kilpatrick



As you travel the northbound 101 out of Los Angeles heading toward Malibu, you leave a vista of faded bungalows and crumbling apartment houses. Youdrive past Koreatown, Sunset Boulevard, and the Hollywood Bowl, past Studio City, Encino, and Topanga Canyon. Past Hidden Hills where newly erected office complexes, designed in the style of the Greek Revival, and vaguely Tudorescue condominium townhomes--mustard stucco and pressboard crossbeams--loom fortresslike over the freeway. The foothills are covered by a scrubby pelt of sunscorched brush and they bristle with new enterprises: Porsche bodyshops andthree-storied Nissan and Acura showrooms; real estate offices disguised as Hopi villages; one-hundred-room, twenty-seven-dollar-a-night motels.

If you are a thirteen-, fourteen-year-old kid from South Central Los Angeles, from Compton or Watts or Inglewood, maybe, if you are a hardcore--or just a wannabe--gang member and you are sitting in the back of an L.A. County Probation Department van, the odds are that you are seeing this panorama far the first time. You're straight out of Juvenile Hall, and the judge has just sentenced you to one of the county juvenile detention camps situated in this area--Miller or Kilpatrick; Gonzalez if you're a hard case--for at least four months, maybe longer, and this is probably the first time you have ever been out of your neighborhood.

There are eleven people inside the van: two deputy probation officers, nine kids. The van itself, a late-model Ford, has barred windows and the Juvenile Hall logo stenciled on both sides. One of the D.P.O.'s (deputy probation officers) does the driving;the other keeps an eye on whatever is going on in the back seats during the trip. Not much, actually; not much more than goes on inside a school bus. The kids who are friends engage in a little light bullshitting, the kids who are enemies ignore each other. Some of the relationships are automatic, based on association; some have developed in the two or three weeks spent in the confinement of the Hall. Every kid in this van knows everything he needs to know about every other kid who's in here with him: who's a straight killer, who's a buster (a coward), who can't open his mouth to speak without lying.

If you're that thirteen- or fourteen-year-old kid you're probably sitting quietly, trying to wind your thoughts into as tight a package as you can. You probably go back over what got you a ticket for this ride in the first place. Maybe you got picked up just for being out on the streets too late and the cops found a concealed weapon on you. Maybe you stole a fancy car so that you could strip all the parts off it. Maybe you got pulled over with a bunch of your homeboys after some of your enemies got shot up in a drive-by. Maybe you got arrested with a stack of twenty-dollar bills in your pocket and a litter of bagged-up dope thrown down on the pavement too near your feet to be coincidence. You think about your hands cuffed behind your back and the way one of the cops covered the top of your head with his hand to keep it ducked down as you got into the back of the black and white. You think about the property search they did on you, and the fingerprinting, and the way the cop read you your rights, explaining to you how you had all the same rights as an adult, excepting bail. No bail for minors. You think about how they separated you from whoever it was you got picked up with, and how you sat in a holding cell for three or four hours before they loaded you back in the cop car and rode you over to Juvenile Hall. You got a pat-down search there, they looked for hidden weapons--unless you were in on a drug beef, then you got a full strip-search--and a shower and a change of clothes. But before that some nurse took a needleful of blood from your arm and gave you a plastic cup to pee in. Then you waited, sitting on a long bench with a bunch of other kids, and a guy read you more of your rights and laid down some rules. The rights were all about phone, calls and three meals a day and going to the bathroom and having a lawyer. The rules told you how you weren't allowed to curse or talk back to the officers or ask another kid where he was from. You weren't allowed to throw your gang sign1 and you weren't allowed to look at anybody in, "a challenging manner." You hid your smile when the guy said that--why the hell didn't he just say not to mad-dog somebody? All the rules were going to get broken anyway, you could tell that by the way some of the kids were sitting there on the bench like fucked if this place was going to break them down, and fucked if they were going to look at an enemy with anything but death in their eyes. All of you knew one thing though, and that was that however you acted in here, it was going to get back out to the homies. And it would be part of your reputation forever.

Your homeboys, the ones who had already been away, told you about that early on, along with the advice that once you got sent up the only way to get along was to do your own time and try not to act like a fool. If you had to stand up for, yourself and your neighborhood, you knew that you'd handle it, but you wouldn't go looking. And you wouldn't back down.

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2008

    I loved it!

    I absolutley loved this book! I couldn't put it down! After I was finished with it I was sad because I felt like I knew the gang members 'e.g. G-Roc'. This is a must read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2006

    Best book ever until.... My Bloody Life

    I liked reading this book because I like to read about gang life. This book is about a interviewer who goes around and talks to kids in gangs and also the kids who are affiliated with them. It tells real life stories about crime and murder. I would recommend this book to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2004

    THIS IS REAL

    Sometimes it seems that we as a society have a blind eye and a deaf ear. America's youth need to be heard. Do or Die tells it the way it is for such a large and important segment of our culture. And we need to hear it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2004

    A must read Book

    Being an ex cop this book is possible the best eye opener I have ever read. A must for parents and kids who have an interest in gangs. I am now a sociology student at LASC (los angeles) and believe this book is a must read for our future Sociology Majors.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2000

    My review on Leon Bings 'Do or Die'

    I think this book is real and it gets to the point, I was in a gang and every thing they said and wrote about is true. If you read any material about gangs or any type of ofiliation with books related to gangs you should you should read this book. I know how it is for them I have been there. If you read this, and you are a parent you might possibly relize how hard it is for us 'kids' to get along in life. Take my advice It is most possibly the best book I have ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2000

    its about time us gangmembers get to tell our side

    its good to see people actualy listening to our veiws and actualy looking at how we live and what we have to go through everyday insted of just judgeing us and trying to blaim us...much love to all my crips out there C'z up for life cuzz!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 17, 2010

    Absolutely Superior...

    I can honestly say this is one of the best books I have read, in my entire life. Leon writes so well, and I admire her for having the ba*ls to get out there and talk to the bangers herself and develop friendships. She respects them. She treats them like fellow human beings. I fully recommend you read this book.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews

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