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Written by Richard Swift

Edited by Jane Springer

Series Title: Groundwork Guides

  • 144 Pages
  • 9780888999788
  • 7" x 5"
  • Reading age to 14
  • JUVENILE NONFICTION / Social Studies / Sociology



Publication Date March 05, 2011

A Booklist Editors’ Choice and a Society of School Librarians International (SSLI) Honor Book

Street gangs have exploded worldwide. Tattoos, baggy pants, tagging, gangsta style, the unspoken threat -- it's all just around the corner in most of the world's major cities. From the streets of Los Angeles to the shantytowns of Cape Town, hundreds of thousands of "at risk" youth are deciding whether they should join their local gang.

Violence, guns, the drug trade, racism, poverty, families under pressure and ever-widening slums all provide a witch's brew in which the youth gang tempts young males and females with a sense of identity and belonging that their world has denied them.

Gangs exposes the roots of the problem as it moves from the banlieues of France to the favelas of Brazil. It offers a startling analysis of the complicity of the official adult world and some controversial ideas for reforms that might just undermine the appeal of gang life.

For many of the world's young -- especially those who are poor -- joining a gang is a real career choice. It is a choice that can be as deadly for young gangsters as for their victims. Richard Swift shows us that we fail to understand gangs at our peril.

Winner of the Booklist Editors' Choice: Books for Youth 2012


Richard Swift
Richard Swift is an internationally regarded journalist and a former editor of New Internationalist magazine. He has done stories from many parts of the world on issues as varied as famine and the plight of farmers, slums, the prison system and struggles for national liberation. Swift is author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Democracy and Trigger Issues: Mosquito, and editor of Ties That Bind: Canada and the Third World. He has also worked as a radio journalist.

Jane Springer
Jane Springer is the author of Genocide, part of the Groundwork Guides series for which she is also the series editor. She is a consultant in international development and has lived and worked in Mozambique and India. She is the author of Listen to Us: The World's Working Children and translator of the Portuguese-language books Nest Egg and Tales from the Amazon. Jane Springer lives in Toronto.


Star Review

"With well-documented references, a sharp wit, and a passionate commitment....this will grab teens, and adults, too, with its compelling arguments about why kids join gangs and what happens when greed, poverty, and injustice intersect." Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

"...informative and fast-paced..." Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

" accessible, readable, and fascinating book." CM Magazine

"...riveting..." School Library Journal