This riveting sequel to My Bloody Life traces Reymundo Sanchez's struggle to create a "normal" life outside the Latin Kings, one of the nation's most notorious street gangs, and to move beyond his past. Sanchez illustrates how the Latin King motto "once a king, always a king" rings true and details the difficulty and danger of leaving that life behind. Filled with heart-pounding scenes of his backslide into drugs, sex, and violence, Once a King, Always a King recounts how Sanchez wound up behind bars and provides an engrossing firsthand account of how the Latin Kings are run from inside the prison system. Harrowing testaments to Sanchez's determination to rebuild his life include his efforts to separate his family from gang life and his struggle to adapt to marriage and the corporate world. Despite temptations, nightmares, regressions into violence, and his own internal demons, Sanchez makes an uneasy peace with his new life. This raw, powerful, and brutally honest memoir traces the transformation of an accomplished gangbanger into a responsible citizen.
For over 50 years, Freddie Foreman's name has commanded respect, and occasionally fear, from those who work to uphold the law3and those who operate just outside of it. With almost all of his compatriots--like the notorious Kray twins--now gone, Freddie is the last real gangster. A true entrepreneur and businessman, Freddie was one of the great personalities of the criminal underworld. A man of principle, protective of his family and unfailingly loyal to his friends, Freddie was someone who could be relied upon with complete confidence in all circumstances.
They called themselves Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings. They were divided by race, ethnicity, and neighborhood boundaries, but united by common styles, slang, and codes of honor. They fought--and sometimes killed--to protect and expand their territories. In postwar New York, youth gangs were a colorful and controversial part of the urban landscape, made famous by West Side Story and infamous by the media. This is the first historical study to explore fully the culture of these gangs. Eric Schneider takes us into a world of switchblades and slums, zoot suits and bebop music to explain why youth gangs emerged, how they evolved, and why young men found membership and the violence it involved so attractive.
Schneider begins by describing how postwar urban renewal, slum clearances, and ethnic migration pitted African-American, Puerto Rican, and Euro-American youths against each other in battles to dominate changing neighborhoods. But he argues that young men ultimately joined gangs less because of ethnicity than because membership and gang violence offered rare opportunities for adolescents alienated from school, work, or the family to win prestige, power, adulation from girls, and a masculine identity. In the course of the book, Schneider paints a rich and detailed portrait of everyday life in gangs, drawing on personal interviews with former members to re-create for us their language, music, clothing, and social mores. We learn what it meant to be a down bopper or a jive stud, to fish with a beautiful deb to the sounds of the Jesters, and to wear gang sweaters, wildly colored zoot suits, or the Ivy League look. He outlines the unwritten rules of gang behavior, the paths members followed to adulthood, and the effects of gang intervention programs, while also providing detailed analyses of such notorious gang-related crimes as the murders committed by the Capeman, Salvador Agron.
Schneider focuses on the years from 1940 to 1975, but takes us up to the present in his conclusion, showing how youth gangs are no longer social organizations but economic units tied to the underground economy. Written with a profound understanding of adolescent culture and the street life of New York, this is a powerful work of history and a compelling story for a general audience.-- "Library Journal"