Sunday, September 28, 2008


TV journalist Chris Blatchford's long awaited book on Rene Enriquez is finally out and it's an awesome read. Second only to Raymond Mendoza's CD autobiography, The Black Hand is the best look we've had so far into the workings of the mob, the vertical integration of the mob with street gangs, Eme and CDC politics and some insight on how the mob can play prison reformers and politicians into actually advancing the mob's agenda.
If you've ever heard Enriquez speak (he was on the Glenn Beck show last week with Blatchford, albeit on the phone) you'll get a dose of cognitive dissonance. He sounds thoughtful, he's clearly bright and presents an image totally out of character to what his life's been about for the past few decades. This is not a knuckle dragging thug. Blatchford keeps himself totally out of the narrative and allows Enriquez' conflicted and sometimes tortured personality to come through.
For the serious student of this subject, it's all there - who stabbed who in what yard and what was behind it, who's the stone killer, the paranoid schemer, dirtbag manipulator - names are named and events chronicled. While there's the inevitable morbid fascination with all this, the violence in the book isn't gratiutous. It's not there for shock value or to sell more books. Violence and murder are, after all, the mob's mechanisms of control and influence. To leave that stuff out - - as earlier books about the Panthers and other criminal groups have done -- is to miss the central point.
In contrast to a book like "Monster," Enriquez doesn't weasel around like Cody Scott who blames his actions on some imaginary "Amerika" that "made" him a criminal. Enriquez, and for that matter most emeros who have expressed opinions on the subject, cops to the fact that he was a criminal, proud of if when he was active, and doesn't try to lay off the blame on anyone or anything. In fact, he credits his parents for trying from the very beginning of his criminal career to get him pointed in the right direction. And they never abandoned him even when he was buried in the SHU.
When it first became common knowledge that Rene had dropped out and was actually willing to testify against his former brothers in court, close observers marked his departure as a milestone event in the mob's history. In the mob world, Rene's defection and redemption is on the same Richter magnitude as Aldrich Ames, Kim Philby or Robert Hanssen in the spy biz. Now we have the book that documents his steps from high ranking shot caller to drop out/informant. For the student of the subject, this book is a no brainer for acquisition. You just gotta have it in the library if you're going to speak with authority on the subject. For cops, correctional officers and prosecutors, the book is invaluable for doing the job. The people who should be forced to read this book, or have it read to them while jetting around the country or riding in the back of chaufered limos are the politicians and policy makers. Policy decisions and laws cannot and should not be made based on information filtered through staff panels, social scientists, mis-informed or biased "advocates, " or groups who have a financial interest in the outcome of policies.
Speaking from personal experience, you don't make a lot of money writing this type of book. Blatchford and Enriquez collaborated on this book for reasons that have nothing to do with making a few bucks. There are lessons in this book that need to be drilled into heads -- young and old ones, shaved, grey or what have you. There are of readers of this site that are either smack in the middle of the life, dabbling at the fringe of it, know people who are heading there or are trying to come back from it. Buy a copy for yourself and one for somebody you care about. Then talk about it. And never stop talking about it until the subject of your concern gets the message.
Despite his clearly genuine change of heart and thorough redemption, Rene Enriquez will spend the rest of his life in prison. That's just the way the world works. As he states in the book, he "wasted" his life pursuing false gods and corrupt ideals. In or out of prison, society will never have anything to fear from him. The saddest and most tragic idea to ponder is "what if." Talented, bright and energetic, what if he'd gone another direction? That's a question that will never be answered for him. But for tens of thousands of young blue-wearing soldiers, there's still a chance to exercise the "what if" option.


Anonymous said...

Excellent review on a powerful book. Blatchford combines his years of investigate reporting talent to undertake The Black Hand and he does a marvelous job.
This book, as Wally states, is a "no brainer" to own if you are interested in the prison gang subject.

Norwalquero said...

Good review!

I got mine from Amazon the day it was released, and devoured it in 3 days.

It's an excellent read, and I agree, second only (perhaps) to Mundo's book.

The book fills in the gaps on many personalities and events that many of us have previously had only a basic understanding of.

I particularly appreciated the updates on the likes of Alfie Sosa (who ordered the massive Pelican Bay riot in 2000) and Tupi Hernandez (whom Boxer portrays as a paranoid 'nutcase').

Also, the complete story behind the Maxon Street murders is very powerful. That chapter (entitled 'Baby Killers' in Blatchford's book) was very moving and provides a gruesome reminder of how utterly evil and diabolical men can become in their thirst for power and recognition.

I'll probably do a review at Amazon in the near future, but wanted to add my voice to the chorus indicating that this book is definitely a 'Must Read' to anyone interested in the subject.

With respect,


Gava Joe said...

It's ordered. Reviews like you've given are worthy of re-reading and reprint themselves. I caught that Glenn Beck show and was as well highly impressed with Rene's eloquence and seeming logical portrayal of why and how he came to write his book. Thanks for the heads up, and good to hear from you.

StillNoScript said...

Hello, Wally.

A couple of responses to your review.

- While Cody Scott, in his book, "Monster", does blame society for some of his downfall, is that all he blames? I seem to remember him alluding to his lack of a father figure, as well. A bit OT but an interesting trivia nugget: Scott's father is former Los Angeles Ram Dick Bass. Scott never met him.

- Cody Scott writes his book as a free man and not as a convict at mercy of the system. True, Boxer will likely never be released but you can't seriously believe there won't be some sort of reward for him avoiding writing about systematic corruption and racism playing a role in the EME's rise. If Boxer writes the book as a free man without a cop looking over his shoulder, is it possible we get a version of the story which implicates "Amerika" as well as his own poor choices in life?