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Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America's Bloodiest Asian Gang Paperback – June 9, 2009


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Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America's Bloodiest Asian Gang + The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob + Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061782386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061782381
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sociological study and true-crime expose 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.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
--Ben Harrison, East Orange
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

T.J. English is a noted journalist, screenwriter, and author of the New York Times bestsellers Havana Nocturne and Paddy Whacked, as well as The Westies, a national bestseller, and Born to Kill, which was nominated for an Edgar Award. He has written for Esquire, Playboy, and New York magazine, among other publications. His screenwriting credits include episodes for the television crime dramas NYPD Blue and Homicide, for which he was awarded the Humanitas Prize. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This was very well researched and written.
Peter Browning
Very detailed accounts of asain gangs in New York.
S. Seto
It is a very informative and interesting read.
Barbara

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Coluccio on March 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book lay gathering dust on a shelf in my home for fourteen years because I didn't think I'd be interested in the subject matter, the Asian organized crime problem in the U.S. during the mid-Eighties to early Nineties. I acquired it during a chance encounter with the author, T.J. English himself, who was gracious enough to autograph a copy and give it to me after I told him how much I had enjoyed his (at that time) previous work, "The Westies." Last week, in search of something to read, I picked it up - and couldn't put it down until I had finished the last page. "Born to Kill" is the riveting tale of a violent gang of youthful Vietnamese refugees who not only preyed on merchants in New York City's Chinatown district, but extended their activities to such far-flung states as Texas and Georgia as well. They were eventually brought down by one of their own who, guilt-ridden because he thought he had taken part in the brutal murder of a Vietnamese shopkeeper in Georgia, decided to cooperate with a joint task force of ATF agents and NYPD detectives dedicated to bringing this group to justice. Enough said. I won't reveal anything more in this review because I don't want to ruin it for the rest of you. Just don't make the same mistake I did and assume it won't hold your interest. Trust me, it will.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andy in Washington TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I must admit, I was never much interested in Vietnamese criminal gangs until I stumbled across this book. I've read a fair amount on the Italian, Chinese and Hispanic gangs, but this was the only book I had ever read on this topic.

For the most part, I enjoyed the book. It provides a nice narrative of the life of one particular gang, and while it certainly has its share of gory crime details, it also explores a bit of the personal history and the lifestyles of the gang members.

----- The Good Points: -----

* TJ English writes in an easy-to-read style. I read the book in just a few sessions, and it held my interest throughout.

* The book concentrates on a handful of characters, so it is easy to develop some familiarity with them, and learn a bit about what makes them tick. Unusual for a book with Asian characters, the names are different enough that it is easy for an Anglo to keep them all straight.

* The narrative is fairly detailed, and combines first person accounts (no doubt from actual testimony) with narratives to fill in the missing points.

* While it only covers the span of a few years, we are taken through the complete lifecycle of a gang, from inception to its being stamped out by law enforcement. A well-contained and complete tale.

----- The Bad Points: -----
Disclaimer: I am a bit meticulous about items presented as "facts" in non-fiction.

* There is a lot of detail in the book, including detailed conversations between criminal characters. Most of these do not appear to be transcripts of taped conversations, but rather reconstructed from testimony and 3rd parties. Always somewhat suspect, especially for details.
Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I am Vietnamese know first hand what the people in that gang experence. In my home town of Sacramento CA their are alot of asian gangs just like BTK. Their is even a gang called Born to Kill around sactown too. I use to kick it with alot of gang member that do some of the same stuff that BTK do like robberies, GTA and busting 211 on houses too. If people wants to know what really happens in an asian gang then you guys should read this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Warren King on February 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
TJ English gives the reader a look into a world many may not even know exists. He does an excellent job of portraying the harsh post-war existence that led Tinh into BTK, yet also shows great compassion for his plight. Despite the brutal nature of the subject matter the book is quite hard to put down. The events that happened resonate with me since I was living in the NYC area when they took place. I also know the exact locations of the streets in Chinatown that were named in the book. If you are not afraid to take a close look at the brutal nature of street life, then I suggest reading Born to Kill.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Katie Picard on October 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
BORN TO KILL is a fascinating and well-researched account of the rise and fall of a Vietnamese gang operating out of Chinatown in New York City. Much of the story chronicles the experiences of one gang member who eventually decides to cooperate with the NYPD and ATF to help bring down the gang. This book does an impressive job of explaining the political and cultural forces that affect these mostly very young gang members, but in a way that is never boring or uninteresting. Mr. English is objective yet he also writes with compassion. If you are interested in Gangs or Asian organized crime you cannot ignore this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By john hicks on January 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Insightful look into little known crime group. In-depth look into victims as well as perpetrators. Would recommend to anyone interested in the genre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Seto on December 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very detailed accounts of asain gangs in New York. As an asain teenager growing up in New York during the gang era of 70's and 80's,
was very easy to picture the the accounts and locations as I was reading. Same as watching a movie, then reading the book.
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