BORN TO KILL:
The Rise and Fall of America's Bloodiest Asian Gang
PAPERBACK: 310 pages
PUBLISHER: Harper Paperbacks
ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: William Morrow & Co. (1995)
ONLINE PURCHASE: Harper | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
Throughout the late 80s and 90s, a gang of young Vietnamese refugees cut a bloody swath through America’s Asian underworld. They were the lost children of the Vietnam War, severed from their families by violence and cast adrift in a strange land. They took their name from a slogan they had seen on helicopters and helmets of U.S. soldiers; and it perfectly reflected their dark, nihilistic worldview: "Born to Kill."
Born to Kill traces the rise of this terrifying new criminal phenomenon through the eyes of Tinh Ngo, a young refugee born in South Vietnam. At the age of eleven, Tinh Ngo was sent out to sea by his parents, part of a massive flotilla of postwar refugees known as the “boat people.” Tinh spent years in squalid refugee camps and survived a series of failed foster homes in the United States before his arrival as a would-be gangster...
As newcomers to America’s vast criminal marketplace, the Born to Kill gang followed patterns of criminal behavior remarkably similar to those established by earlier generations of immigrant racketeers. In New York City’s bustling Chinatown, they took over the community’s most lucrative commercial boulevard through a campaign of extortion, robbery, and violent intimidation. Then they took their act on the road, tapping into a sprawling network of young Asian gangsters stretching from the Deep South to the suburbs of California.
The gang’s leader was David Thai, known to his minions as Anh Hai, the oldest and wisest brother. Raised in Saigon during the worst years of the war, Thai saw himself as a modern-day mandarin prince, the supreme commander of a vast Asian underworld. Thai’s megalomania spurred the gang on to more and more outrageous acts of mayhem, culminating with the brutal shooting of a jewelry-store owner during a robbery gone awry.
It was this act that stirred a smoldering sense of guilt within Tinh Ngo, who had joined the gang for brotherhood but become increasingly disenchanted with the violence. Eventually, Tinh began to cooperate with a group of federal lawmen investigating the gang.
Born to Kill is an examination of the changing face of organized crime. As the Cosa Nostra wanes, a vast multicultural criminal marketplace has begun to take shape in America. Born to Kill lays bare aspects of this budding underworld in dramatic, human terms, through the eyes of those caught in a daily, terrifying quest for their own unique version of the American Dream.