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Life Sentence: Book summary and reviews of Life Sentence by Mark Bowden

Life Sentence

The Brief and Tragic Career of Baltimore's Deadliest Gang Leader

by Mark Bowden

Life Sentence by Mark Bowden X
Life Sentence by Mark Bowden
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  • Published Apr 2023
    320 pages
    Genre: True Crime

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Book Summary

In this unprecedented deep dive into inner-city gang life, Mark Bowden takes readers inside a Baltimore gang, offers an in-depth portrait of its notorious leader, and chronicles the 2016 FBI investigation that landed eight gang members in prison.

Sandtown is one of the deadliest neighborhoods in the world; it earned Baltimore its nickname Bodymore, Murderland, and was made notorious by David Simon's classic HBO series "The Wire." Drug deals dominate street corners, and ruthless, casual violence abounds.

Montana Barronette grew up in the center of it all. He was the leader of the gang "Trained to Go," or TTG, and when he was finally arrested and sentenced to life in prison, he had been nicknamed "Baltimore's Number One Trigger Puller." Under Tana's reign, TTG dominated Sandtown. After a string of murders are linked to TTG, each with dozens of witnesses too intimidated to testify, three detectives set out to put Tana in prison for life. For them, this was never about drugs: It was about serial murder.

Now an acclaimed journalist who spent his youth in the white suburbs of Baltimore, Mark Bowden returns to the city with exclusive access to the FBI files and unprecedented insight into one of the city's deadliest gangs and its notorious leader. As he traces the rise and fall of TTG, Bowden uses wiretapped drug buys, police interviews, undercover videos, text messages, social media posts, trial transcripts, and his own ongoing conversations with Tana's family and community to create the most in-depth account of an inner-city gang ever written.

With his signature precision and propulsive narrative, Mark Bowden positions Tana – as a boy, a gang leader, a killer, and now a prisoner – in the context of Baltimore and America, illuminating his path for what it really was: a life sentence.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A scorching true-crime narrative... Bowden pulls no punches in his indictment of the ways in which the richest country in the world has allowed Black children for decades to be born into blighted urban neighborhoods, and saddled them with burdens that they must struggle to surmount to lead meaningful lives. This account of 'young men growing up in a place where murderous violence has become a way of life' will haunt readers long after they finish it." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A powerful, nuanced depiction of gang violence in America that makes a strong case for meaningful reform beyond policing." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Life Sentence is a masterpiece, right up there with Black Hawk Down and Guests of the Ayatollah. It's gripping, it's fast, it's deeply insightful and empathetic, and it's brilliantly and exhaustively reported. People should read it." —Matt Bai, Washington Post contributing columnist and author of All the Truth Is Out

This information about Life Sentence was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Mark Bowden Author Biography

Photo: David Keane

Mark Bowden is the author of several books, including Killing Pablo, Black Hawk Down, Bringing the Heat, Doctor Dealer, Finders Keepers, and Guests of the Ayatollah. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and is now a national correspondent for The Atlantic and writes for Vanity Fair, as well as other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Name Pronunciation
Mark Bowden: BOW-den (first syllable rhymes with how)

Other books by Mark Bowden at BookBrowse
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