Publishers Weekly
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As a media-stoked panic about immigrant youth gangs flared across the U.S. in the 1990s, national violent crime rates were actually plummeting, suggesting that "reports" of internationally networked Central American gangs invading idyllic American suburbs masked more than it revealed. Moreover, the image anticipated the post-9/11 panic over foreign terror cells that dovetailed with a renewed backlash against undocumented Latino immigrants. In this engrossing case study of suburban gangs in Long Island's Nassau County, investigative journalist Garland demystifies the sensationalist rhetoric and simplistic media coverage stemming from the economic and demographic transformation of suburbia. Garland humanizes her subject through long-term, in-depth interviews with current and former gang members; extensive footwork across the U.S. and Central America; and a formidable command of relevant foreign and public policy decisions. While offering a detailed look inside such notorious gangs as Mara Salvatrucha and its self-styled affiliates, Garland makes a persuasive case that her subjects' attraction to gang life had less to do with what gangs offered than with "what America did not." (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved