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Wild Cowboys


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Table of Contents

Prologue A Quad in the Bronx A Death on the Highway Fort "Yo No Se!" Uptown Murders Cracking the Case Lenny's Boys The Takedown Downtown Justice Urban Badlands Troubled Order Epilogue Cast of Characters Timeline Abbreviations Notes on Sources Acknowledgments Index Maps Police Precincts in New York City Beekman Avenue, Bronx 40th Precinct, Bronx Mott Haven Neighborhood, Bronx 34th Precinct, Manhattan

About the Author

Robert Jackall has done several years of fieldwork with New York City police detectives and prosecutors, among whom he is known as "The Professor." He is the Class of 1956 Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Williams College.


New York City's Washington Heights neighborhood is home to a number of violent "crews" that seem to divide their time between drug trafficking and murdering rival gang members. Jackall, a sociologist from Williams College, spent three years as a participant observer of efforts by criminal justice workers to bring members of one such gang, the Wild Cowboys, to account. His tale mixes sociology and journalism, without fitting comfortably into either. The drama centers around the work of homicide detectives in linking separate killings and assaults to a single source. As the title might indicate, Jackall tries to give his book the structure and even the language of a classic western, with a rushing, hard-boiled prose that sounds like Jack Kerouac collaborated with James Cain. But the book lacks definable central characters (a 15-page dramatis personae follows the text) needed to tie together a narrative and give readers someone to identify with through the many layers of the criminal justice system. The author seems most interested in making this a morality tale, as in his previous Moral Mazes, about the world of corporate managers. Little attempt is made to integrate the work into sociological literature on gangs, nor does he discuss the built-in problems of participant observationā€˜over identification with subjects and difficulty in generalizing the experience. Still, despite its problems, it does have strengths. Jackall isn't afraid to draw conclusions and his story has an air of authenticity. This book makes a brutal and, for most readers, extremely foreign world seem discomfitingly close. (Sept.)

Wild Cowboys has a great deal to tell about the formation and operation of emerging "criminal enterprises." Moreover, and perhaps more important, this book is a fly-on-the-wall look at how the "forces of order" think and go about eradicating the opposition...Mr. Jackall is at his best when he fleshes out how police detectives single-mindedly overcame dead-end leads, sidestepped or neutralized competing units within the ranks of the police bureaucracy and parlayed fragments of accurate information to solve several particularly vicious pieces of Wild Cowboy handiwork...Anyone interested in the techniques of criminal investigation could not find a more comprehensive and readable primer than this book. -- Alan Mass * New York Law Journal *
This book is a hard-driving, factual account of the Dominican drug trade and the havoc it wreaked in New York City, particularly in Washington Heights and the Bronx, along with the frustrated efforts of law enforcement officials to deal with it. -- Bill Franz * The Register *
Jackall isn't afraid to draw conclusions and his story has an air of authenticity. This book makes a brutal and, for most readers, extremely foreign world seem discomfitingly close. * Publishers Weekly *

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