I am Raymond Washington

I am Raymond Washington

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692359877
Publisher: Steele Shark Press
Publication date: 12/29/2014
Pages: 188
Sales rank: 259,215
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

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I am Raymond Washington 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ApexRev More than 1 year ago
Written in a conversational, no-nonsense manner, Zach Fortier's latest work, I Am Raymond Washington, reads like the best of modern detective fiction. However, this is no novel. It's an extensively researched work of journalism on par with Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. The book begins with the author explaining his motivation, and his intentions, namely, to uncover his subject's true identity in a fair, impartial manner. That said, Fortier lives up to his promises. Indeed, despite being a former cop, he subtly empathizes with Raymond Washington, the original founder of the Crips. The book is equal parts biography, character study, historical background, oral history and sociology. Unlike many biographies, it follows no set "plot". While Washington is the linchpin that holds the book together, he is not always front and center. The author discusses the political, social, and socio-economical conditions that inspired Washington, providing a rich background to the action of the story. Several chapters deviate from the main thrust of the narrative, and read more like critical essays than stories. Nonetheless, they are every bit as engaging as they are devoted to debunking myths surrounding the Crips and its founder, that outsiders have ignorantly—and somewhat comically—accepted. Additionally, they question—and answer, no less—many fundamental mysteries about gang life, one such being the reasons why people join gangs. Fortier supports his conclusions with his exhaustive research (consisting of official documents, newspapers clippings, interviews, etc.) and allusions to classical Western literature, like Homer's The Iliad or the works of Joseph Campbell. However, Fortier leaves ample room for the reader to make his or her own conclusions. In the book, Washington emerges as the Macbeth of South Central Los Angeles, a tragic hero whose flaws include unbridled ambition and a sense of invulnerability, which led him to found the Crips at the age of fifteen. Those same flaws, in ten years' time, gradually made him irrelevant to his own gang. Rounding out this theatrical allusion, Washington's downfall comes courtesy of Chekhov's gun. Thoroughly researched, intelligently written, full of larger than life—but very much real—characters, and colored by rich emotion untarnished by melodrama, this slim volume serves as both the chronicle of a man's life and an examination of the last 46 years of American history. Chris Sitko Apex Reviews