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Do or Die Paperback – May 20, 1992

3.6 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bing profiles archrival Los Angeles teenage gangs the Crips and the Bloods in a harrowing docuchronicle--which received a PW boxed review in cloth--that should be read by all concerned with the future of urban America. $40,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"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."-- Digby Diehl, "Playboy""Poignant."-- "New York Times""Fascinating and frightening."-- "Los Angeles Times""Ambitious and provocative."-- "Chicago Tribune""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."-- "Houston Chronicle""Shocking."-- "San Francisco Chronicle""A powerful portrait of life on the streets."-- "Vogue""Bing is a reporter of remarkable vividness and subtlety ... passionately objective . . . a remarkable, compellingly readable piece of reporting." -- "Entertainment Weekly""Harrowing and heart-felt . . . a book that should be read by everyone professionally involved or personally concerned with the future of urban America." -- "Publishers Weekly""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." -- "Kirkus Reviews"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 20, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060922915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060922917
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Do or Die is written in the best tradition of great American chroniclers of horrifying social conditions, societal and political neglect,and the breakdown of social and human norms. Leon Bings tells the story of South Central Los Angeles' teenage gangs of the late 80s and early 90s,who - in a frenzy of uncontrolled violence - set out to defend their part of the hood and put in work for the set - in other words, kill members of a hostile gang. It's a shocking tale of innercity 12-year olds entering enemy neighborhoods to blast other gangmembers' heads off, just like 12-year old suburban kids enter the opposite soccerteam's penalty area to score the decisive goal.
The main narrators are the kids themselves, Bing only providing necessary background information and the thread that links individual experiences into a whole. Throughout the book she stays remarkably objective - never trying to hide her sympathy for G-Roc, Sidewinder, and Co., but not shying away from breaking with political correctness' irrevocable laws by describing one kid she visits in juvenile detention as somebody she "wants to be kept inside forever".
As far as I know, Bing, who by the way is an ex-model turned journalist who comes from money, which makes her undertaking even more remarkable, was the first author to seriously investigate ganglife and write about it. Thus, one might not find in Do or Die some information and analysis contained in later books. The lack of the latter has its plusses, though, since one is not forced to follow a particular line of thought, but has the opportunity to arrive at one's own conclusions.
Last but not least, the book is very well written. Bing's calm style alternates with the agitated torrent of gang speech. Relaxing moments, which, after all, still exist even in South Cental, take turn with descriptions of violent action. Overall, a great book. Required reading for anyone with only the slightest interest in gangs and urban America.
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By A Customer on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a gang cop in California. I will say that from my perspective, Ms. Bing has done an excellent job in portraying the life and times of gang members in Southern California. Excellent reading material for those that are not privy to what is really happening on our streets and with our youth today.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a terrible book. There are no words to really describe it. Leon Bing is a former model who ventures into the gang underworld hoping to catch a glimpse into what it's like to "do or die." She's lucky that she didn't die, because her naivete could have gotten her killed. Bing underestimated her own perceptions of inner-city gangs, as is evident throughout this book. One simply cannot go from a charmed life and write a hardcore book without immersing oneself into the culture as well. Do or die is written as if someone was doing a very half-jacked college paper, a few days of observation here, a few there, and bam-Do or die. Sadly, this book is an inadequate representation into the gravity of gangs in America. Granted it is rather dated, but the problems remain the same
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By A Customer on May 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book has accurately protrayed what gang-life is like more so than any other book or movie that I have ever seen. It helps you have an understanding of how and why someone has chosen or been dealt this life, and shows you that there is so much more to the people Leon Bing has protrayed than just a color and a gun. I only wish she had done a follow-up to this book.
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Format: Paperback
My friends think my recent interest in gangs is a little "weird". So many people only know what they see in the main-stream media--scare tactics, which dehumanize gangs so people never stop to think about WHY this happens. Most people don't know that gangbanging has been going on for decades, covered up by "The Man". Unfortuneately, more media coverage has glorified gang activity, but Ms. Bing gives an honest and accurate view. She turns faceless "thugs" that cops say are "harder to exterminate than cockroaches", into human beings, molded into what they are by their society and environment. As members of this society, are we going to quell the symptoms, or go to the roots and cure the disease itself?
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Format: Paperback
As a man who grew up in South Central los Angeles and has lived in multiple gang neighborhoods, I can tell you that this book is trash. First off I can assure you that not one gang member chronicled in this book used the word "n***er" like Bing would have you believe. You can clearly see that she threw the word around in this book at will while knowing it was not used by the gangsters.

Bing shows that she has no true knowledge of the cities nor the gang life. If she would have done more research perhaps this book would be better. Also she does not name the gangs in which each of these young men belong to. I'm sure readers who are not familiar with los Angeles gangs would lobe to know which gangs these young men belong to.

There is also false information on page 155 and 156 about the crip and blood sets, some of the gangs are not in los Angeles.

Crip gangs not in LA:

Kelly park, Front hood, Pocket hood, Santana Blocc, Nutty blocc, and Lantana blocc (they are all compton crip gangs and all compton crip gangs go by compton crip for example it would be Kelly park compton crip. Also no crip gang would have the word block spelled the way it is. They use blocc because of the ck at the end would denote "crip killa" so bloc or blocc is the correct way)

Inglewood village crip ( they are located in Inglewood)

Grape street (located in watts, it is known as Grape street Watts)

Front street (Watts)

357 & Ghost town ( Pomona)

Shotguns (Gardena)

Insanes ( long beach and are rivals of the Long beach Rolling 20's the gang snoop dogg claims)

Bloods:

Pirus ( The only piru set located in los Angeles is the Rolling 30 pirus.
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