In a deep dive into inner-city gang life, Mark Bowden takes readers inside a Baltimore gang, offers an in-depth portrait of its notorious leader, and chronicles the 2016 FBI investigation that landed eight gang members in prison.
Bowden...is well placed to tell the story ... The issue of racism burns through every part of this book—in policing, media coverage, political disinterest. Familiar and depressing. Bowden excels in relentlessness, illustrating the constructed divides ... Bowden seeks to offer explanations, not excuses ... Life Sentence goes deep, putting the microscope on the investigation, the evidence-gathering, and the informants involved. Wiretaps provide real-time, firsthand commentary of killers hunting victims, a sense of being there accurate enough to be unsettling ... A deftly written examination of how Montana Barronette came to be, and then came to be caught, a stark reminder that lasting change is dependent on long-term political commitment. Hardly a reason for optimism.
The masterful yarn is a riveting true narrative about an FBI investigation that landed eight criminal bosses behind bars in the city profiled in the popular American television crime drama The Wire ... Using his exclusive access to FBI files and his knowledge of the city, Bowden paints a vivid picture of life in Baltimore’s oldest Black neighborhood just 10 miles but otherwise a world away from the white suburbs where he grew up.
A sad, and sadly familiar, tale ... The pages of Life Sentence are filled with the outlaw escapades of a hard-to-differentiate cast of characters ... The author...tries mightily to flesh out his sketches of these dead-enders—to give us a fuller sense of their backgrounds and inner lives—but he doesn’t have much to work with. Most of his information about TTG seems to come from the cops who busted up the ring. The book’s later chapters feature extensive verbatim passages from the police department’s interview room.