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My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King (Illinois)
by Reymundo Sanchez

Published: 2000-07-01
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Looking for an escape from childhood abuse, Reymundo Sanchez turned away from school and baseball to drugs, alcohol, and then sex, and was left to fend for himself before age 14. The Latin Kings, one of the largest and most notorious street gangs in America, became his refuge and his ...
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Introduction

Looking for an escape from childhood abuse, Reymundo Sanchez turned away from school and baseball to drugs, alcohol, and then sex, and was left to fend for himself before age 14. The Latin Kings, one of the largest and most notorious street gangs in America, became his refuge and his world, but its violence cost him friends, freedom, self-respect, and nearly his life. This is a raw and powerful odyssey through the ranks of the new mafia, where the only people more dangerous than rival gangs are members of your own gang, who in one breath will say they’ll die for you and in the next will order your assassination.

Editorial 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

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