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My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King Hardcover – July 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In My Bloody Life, Reymundo Sanchez tells a chillingly sad tale, from his birth in the back of a pickup truck in Puerto Rico to the day he quit the Latin Kings gang, 21 years later. From the first page, his narrative is unpretentious, disarmingly honest, and horrifyingly riveting. His early years were so full of pain and abuse that by the time he opts, at age 11, to hang out with the local gang, the Latin Kings, it seems a perfectly logical choice. In his shoes, any one of us--smacked nightly by a mother and beaten ragged whenever the stepfather got the chance--would likely have chosen the same path. The gang was the family that accepted him as well as the peer group that offered girls who didn't say "no." Any violence that went with the territory couldn't match the atmosphere of brutality that permeated his own home.

Sanchez was a Latin King for six years and participated in innumerable bloody gang battles--years rife with sex, drugs, booze, and acts of gang revenge. He finally got up his pluck to leave (and the only way was to be "violated" out through a gang beating), but admits in his conclusion that life since then has, in some ways, been even harder. He's had to quit drugs, lose the only community he's known, support himself, and deal with the nightmares of all the horrors he's seen and done. Though Sanchez still hasn't accomplished his dream of completing college, he has managed to leave the Kings, leave Chicago, leave behind his mother's legacy of violence, and write an impressive first book. --Stephanie Gold

From Publishers Weekly

Chicago in the 1980s provides the setting for this extremely disturbing and raw account of a Puerto Rican teenager who lost himself to violent gang activity. Now repentant, Sanchez (a pseudonym) writes in a voluble voice, replete with operatic asides declaiming the immorality of his actions. But he offers a forceful and unusual perspective on ChicagoAin Sanchez's telling, it's a place of territorial graffiti and racist cops, in which a slow-motion riot of drugs, sex and gunplay constantly unfolds. Sanchez recounts his family's arrival in Chicago's Northwest Side in the late 1970s, when he was a small boy; he describes the beatings his grifter stepfather regularly doled out; and he portrays the allure of the mysterious and ritual-bound lives of tough, teenaged gangsters. When his family returned to Puerto Rico, he stayed behind. Soon, he joined the fearsome Latin Kings, and his given street name "Lil Loco" attested to his youth and ferocity. While graphically describing what he witnessed as a gang memberAsenseless killings, inter-ethnic hatreds and sexual abuse of gang-affiliated womenASanchez also pursues harder truths, arguing that it is a minority of promiscuous drug-users accompanied by community-wide silence that keeps the gangs in business. In the end, he condemns his former gang for masquerading as a Latino "public service" organization while high-ranking members become rich from their youthful recruits' drug dealing. And he scoffs at their reliance on conformist rituals and violence (violations of the rituals were punished with full body beatings). Offering very little hope, this book captures the dark, self-destructive lot of countless urban teens. Like other gangland memoirs (such as Monster and Always Running), it is significant because it takes the reader deep inside a secretive and brutal ethnic gang subculture. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524011
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reymundo Sanchez is the pseudonym of a former Latin King who no longer lives in Chicago. He is the author of My Bloody Life.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Gunia VINE VOICE on August 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the first book since fifth grade that has actually made me cry. In fifth grade, I cried because the fictional main character's pet goose died. I cried while reading "My Bloody Life" because "Reymundo Sanchez's" life was non-fiction and common in our nation's cities.
Sanchez's eyes opened up and he ended up leaving the Latin Kings (unlike "Slim" and others who were killed instead of being allowed to leave). He writes from the perspective of an older man who is able to look back on his life and truly reflect on what the event of his life signified. Thus he is able to reflect on his decisions, then explain his thought process at the time (eg. when the 35-year-old Maria takes 13-year-old Reymundo's virginity, he is able to say that he now realizes that what Maria did was horrible and probably ruined many future sexual experiences for him. But at that time, all he wanted was to have sex and "be a man.")
Sanchez is able to soberly reflect on his life. The result is a flowing, "matter-of-fact" prose as he describes his introduction to alcohol and marijuana (at the age of 12), his physically abusive parents, his multiple murders, his violence against others, his physical and sexual abuse of other women, his drug dealing and cocaine addiction. The rapidity with which Sanchez went from a nice kid with good grades to an amazingly violent, self-centered gang-banger is both shocking and sad.
This was a very powerful book set in a neighborhood not too far from my house. To know the daily goings on a few miles from my house, in the neighborhood my parents grew up in is very sad. The subject matter is violent, graphic and quite disturbing, but needs to be read. You probably won't have a good time reading this book, but you'll be doing yourself a favor if you do. Recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Coulter on June 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
My Bloody Life is rather straightforward memoir about Sanchez's randomly brutal childhood and his subsequent violent career with the Latin Kings in Chicago. And a very violent career it was: bloodshed and drug addiction are the two major elements of the narrative. For all of that, this reader did not feel that the author was patronizing us or shocking us for its own sake: he is describing his world as he saw it, and he didn't live by Walden Pond. My Bloody Life does nothing to glamourize gang life, but it is apparent that the Latin Kings did provide Mr. Sanchez with the only community, the only family he has ever had. This adds a poignant note to an unsentimental memoir: it is only when the author is speaking of the gang that you feel he is connected to the world around him. The Latin Kings gave him a chance to be on the winning side of violence, for a while, instead of just being its clueless victim.
The prose is unadorned, the rhetorical tricks few, and the printing errors more frequent that I would wish, but I read this book with the sense that I was reading a life, and not just puffery or bathos. And that is what all memoirs are for. In addition, My Bloody Life tells us a great deal about one gang and one gangbanger, things that many of us do not understand very well, even if we see them everyday. Is this book worth reading? Most definitely.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alan Mills VINE VOICE on November 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Excellent description of gang life, and how young men are sucked into that life. Witten by a former Latin King who joined at a very young age, and quickly rose through the ranks to become a street level leader.
During this period, he became addicted to drugs, and his life spiraled out of control. The only reason he is alive to write this book is that he got out before he hit his late teens.
The book lays out in great and convincing detail what it means to be a member of a street gang. One forgets that the author did everything that he describes in about three years (the time line is apparently intentionally fudged), and all before he reached adulthood.
The only warning I would give is that the book does not really explore the higher reaches of the gang structure. The author readily admits that he never came anywhere near that level, and was used and abused by those that did. That is the book I am waiting for.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Francene Areopagita on April 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King is a story written by Reymundo Sanchez (a pseudonym). Mr. Sanchez tries to teach readers about the dangers of being a gang member. Reymundo opens a reader's eyes to the gang world by explaining his personal experiences and through his friend's experiences. The gang world is far more multifarious than how it is depicted in movies and TV shows.

Reymundo Sanchez gets an inside look on one of the largest and most organized Hispanic street gangs, by being a former gang member of the Latin Kings. As a kid Reymundo was physically abused by his parents and did not have family to lean on. At a very young age Reymundo was forced to lean on himself and was driven to the life of a gangster. Mr. Sanchez explains how he thought gangs were like a family, a "brother" is there for each other when one needs help. Soon enough he realized "brotherhood" is only strong if one can benefit from the other. He performed his first "hit" at the age of 14 and from then on, he understood the hardship his life would have to undergo just to survive.

Mr. Sanchez clearly depicts each gruesome experience he had to endure because of his gang activity. He also explains his side of the story and reveals truly how he felt inside when the use of drugs, the killing of innocent people, and promiscuous activity happened. Reymundo tells the appalling truth that makes a reader think differently about gangs. It successfully shows the dangers of being in a gang. However, it does not just give the reader stereotypical views on gang members. When a person hears gang member, the first word that pops into their heads is "bad". Most people do not bother to understand why these kids become these "bad" gang members.
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