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on 12 November 2006
I first heard about Tookie Williams via the internet but never bothered to read any of his earlier books, as they didn't seem to cover his life, only his views on various subjects. But this one, his autobiography, was a must, and I was not disappointed. Williams was THE Original Gangsta, co-founder with Raymond Washington of the Crips, probably the biggest and best-known black street gang in the world. He became a legend on the streets of LA for his violence, his fearlessness and his bodybuilding, which sparked a whole fashion for huge "prison muscles" that continues to this day (see 50 Cent, etc). Eventually given the death penalty for murders he always denied - and there is no doubt that the LAPD in that period could be an extremely dubious outfit - he spent the rest of his life on Death Row until his execution late in 2005. This book was written while he was inside and the way he writes and thinks is clearly influenced by the reading matter he had access to and his process of self-education. An absolutely fascinating portrayal and one of those instant classics that no true crime library should be without
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on 8 October 2005
Initially I found this, the autobiography of Stanley 'Tookie' Williams, co-founder of the notorious L.A. Crips quite hard to get into. It took me a while to work out why. Then, after persevering for many chapters it began to dawn on me. My problem was that I was finding it hard to listen to Tookie's written voice. Having been on Death Row for so long, developing a vast vocabulary from the contents of the prison library, Tookie's tales of childhood and of 'Crippin' sound very filtered. The book's strength is its incredible honesty and the sheer force of Tookie's personality but its weakness is that it feels a bit processed, and becomes preachy in places - but maybe that's allowable, this is after all a book with a message, with a cause. Sadly that was an unfulfilled cause as Tookie finally met his maker via a lethl injection on Dec 13th 2005.
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on 4 December 2009
It may be argued that there are worse fates than death and one is hard pressed to imagine a worse fate than the waiting game that criminals in certain states in the USA have to undergo when they have the death penalty hanging over their heads. Some wait for years for a possible remission, only to be disappointed. The years that some have to wait can bring a change in a person that means that when the final penalty is carried out the law in effect has not executed the same person who originally committed the crimes.

The story of Stanley Tookie Williams is just such an example. Undergoing a self exploration while waiting years for his death penalty to be put into effect he educates himself and transforms his mental attitude and begins to do astonishing work in prison resulting in his nomination for the Nobel prize.None of this transformation results in a lessening of his sentence and is a poignant reminder that there seldom is any justice in taking the life of a criminal no matter how heinous the original crimes are. We all move on in time and in the case of certain criminals they either harden in their attitude or as in the case of Tookie they endeavour to make themselves reintegratable.

This book opens up so many debates about the difficult subject of crime and punishment and the futility of the outdated systems of punishment that still exist today in so-called modern and enlightened societies. It may be easy for most of us to be armchair activists, however Tookie Williams takes us into the real life atmosphere of the criminal prison and the pressures and difficulties that are constantly on an inmate to maintain a criminal attitude. Tookie fought against all odds and this is the record of those struggles which make inspiring reading but with little hope for the future of criminal detention centres and for the debate surrounding the death penalty. Let's hope that one day Tookie can make that all important difference!
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on 19 February 2007
Purchased book for my son who thoroughly enjoyed it, it gives a good incite into his life and his mind at times when he was eventually imprisoned for murders he repeatedly claimed his innocence for. If you live by the sword then you will probably die by it. Tookie was no innocent man and did many things no mother would be proud of a son achieving but he did seem to try and address his crimes in his writings. Whether that was because he was on death row, or not, who will ever really know. This story how-ever is a good read and a truthful account how a boy becomes a murdering gang member from the streets of the damned. I hope he rests in peace. Sadly his book sells because of his crimes and not because of his literary skills.
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on 2 June 2016
the violent drug fuelled life of a gang founder who brought so much pain and death to his own community a man who says mine was a path of ignorance.i learned nothing of worth to offer anyone. instead he helped evolve gang culture which has filled the prisons and graves whilst destroying his own communities chances and hope diverting young people into a nihilistic mimicking capitalist lifestyle which normally ends in drugs,death or the dead time of prison.casual references to loadsa violence endless drug use pumping iron not much thought to the victims however after decades in prison convicted of a dubious multiple murder he dissects his crippin life and seeks redemption writing books to help kids avoid gangs a personal spiritual quest sadly being executed the story end
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on 19 December 2008
not by any means a groundbreaking book but definatley worth a read. a book by a man who started the most violent gang in the history of los angeles. but unlike similar books iv read does not brag about it.this is a story of disenfranchised youth to the very core, and an indicator of the damage social inequality can do to a nation. in the end, you cant help but feel sympathy for the wrongly executed stanley williams
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on 14 August 2009
I have just finished this book and was left itching for more. I wanted to know more about the stories he told. Stanley Williams was a victum of his circumstance and though in his youth was certainly no angel I felt deep sorrow for his wrongful death. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the crips or black hardship in the ghettos of America. RIP Tookie.
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on 29 July 2011
One of the best autobiographies I've read. Can't help but think he glosses over some of his "activities" to paint himself in a better light but there's no doubting that in his "later years" he has had an immensely positive impact on gang culture across the world. Would have liked a more candid account but I'm sure that this would not have helped his appeals, which were ultimately futile.
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on 13 October 2014
Im going to start of by saying i got this book of my cousens mum and has it for a mouth and I really got so possed by it from his early days as a child to his rise to become one of the ruthless gang leaders of the crips.

If you are from a bad upbringing i recomend you should read this book because of how it is explains how you can avoid Getting into really bad vs situations in gang life.
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on 17 August 2011
I ordered this book to take away with me for my week long holiday. Unfortunately it was so enthralling I couldn't put it down, resulting in me getting sunburn, and having nothing to read for the last few days. I'd imagine this will be one of the few books I own that I could happily read again.
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